He was amongst the marginalized authors of the 19th century plantation societies but he was able to engineer his own discourse amongst the prevailing hegemonic institutions. Despite being a slave, he wrote between the lines of domination while being concurrent with the prevailing circumstances. He did this with the objective of creating a 19th century alternative image of Spanish Caribbean societies that needed further critical perspectives and considerations. In this essay, I will compare Manzano with the figure of the Count in The Last Supper, in holding that despite the varying positions the two characters occupied in their respective settings, religion was a dominating factor in crystallizing their respective personalities in the context of what they delivered. The argument will be made very clear by analyzing their respective approaches towards religion and how they used religion in achieving their ends.
The film, The Last Supper, directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea (1976), depicts that in a rather imprudent attempt to add to the knowledge of his African slaves, the Count, who is pious as well as guilt ridden, asks twelve chosen slaves to have dinner with him on a Maundy Thursday during Easter, obviously with the intention of re-enacting the Last Supper with himself performing the role of Christ. As they are involved in eating and drinking, the Count feeds the slaves with a lot of religious oratory and tries to guide them about the tenets of Christianity. He proposes to give them an off the next day, which is Good Friday and pledges that he will free one amongst them. But he does not meet up with his commitment the next day and the slaves stage a revolt. Both, the Last Supper as well as Juan Francis Manzano’s autobiography relate to the lives of slaves in Cuban sugar plantations during the late eighteenth century and are real life stories.
The film’s center piece is the