Casta Paintings and Lieutenant Nun

The Casta paintings represented a wide array of racial mixtures derived from the offspring of unions between Spaniards and Indians-mestizos, Blacks-mulattos, and Blacks and Indians-zambos. These paintings received numerous documented critiques throughout centuries. It appears that in the earlier centuries, the paintings were vastly criticized. Particularly in 1746, Dr. Andres Arce y Miranda found that the casta paintings were offensive due to their depictions of racial mixtures. While, throughout the eighteenth century demand for the paintings drastically increased. Ignoring the criticized views of Dr. Andres Arce y Miranda. The difference of opinions between centuries could suggest that during the time of Andres Arce y Miranda racial mixtures, and children of mixed blood were viewed as inferior. Possibly he deemed that people of a subordinate status were not to be painted or assumed a position of value. The later century alludes that the paintings achieved a level of popularity were they became inaccessible to the average majority. Being displayed in official public spaces, such as museums, universities, high-ranking officials’ residences, and palaces. An, indication that only the wealthy had access to posses the Casta Paintings in the later centuries. I find it interesting that they began, unwanted due to their “offensive” depiction of inter-racial relationships, an indication that Dr. Andres Arce y Miranda may of been racist. Later developing into a masterpiece viewed by countless people.

The Lieutenant Nun is an extensive journey that raised several questions for me while reading it. Firstly, I found it interesting that she only lived at home with her family until the age of four, were she was then sent away to become a nun. I was curious as to if it is possible that she did not develop strong relationships with her mother or father? As, when she encounters them later on in her new identity she describes no desire to return to neither her family nor the life she had left. At first I was shocked to read that after seeing her father searching for her, it did not leave her yearning to reveal herself to him. Then it occurred that possibly there relationship was weak, and she felt no attachment to him. Growing up with your parents until the age of four would leave a minimal emotional connection. It may be difficult to image that the reason she was put into the convent, and her unwanted situation was because of her parents. It is possible that she may have developed resentment towards both her mother and father. This would explain why seeing/interacting with her family members once again would not spark the desire to return home. Monja Alferez experiences numerous remarkable moments while adopting new forms of identity.

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  1. That’s a good point you raise about her limited relationship with her parents, and that being a feasible reason as to why she did not wish to return to them. It might be safe to assume that she felt almost abandoned by them, and, in exchange, made it a life’s goal to be as independent as possible (ex. not settling in one place).

  2. Additionally, it seems like her family is quite large; she is constantly running into realtives, even in the New World. A larger family might allow for more cracks to slip through, especially when great life decision are made for you from a young age. Monja seems to me like a classic case of healthy youthful rebellion (but in the even more exciting context of crossing continental and gender boundaries), and I’m all for it!

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