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Antón Pérez: Manuel Sánchez Mármol’s Novel of Race, War, and Passion By Terry Rugeley ...

Chapter 1:  The Pardo
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Antón Pérez:

Chapter 1

The Pardo

He was not so well-born that he could pride himself on coming from the aristocracy of Cunduacán, nor was he so low-born as to be taken for village riffraff.1 On both sides of his family Antón Pérez was a pardo, a term that in that ancient town referred indiscriminately to first- or second-degree mestizos, to mulatos, or to cuarterones, and even to zambos.2 For that reason he could never be don, a title of reverence reserved only for members of families that had owned slaves, even they those families had fallen on hard times, and even when reduced to extreme poverty by some capricious twist of fortune.3 At best, a pardo might manage to win the title of señor, and even so, not in its purest sense, but rather with the loss of the final letter. A pardo who had worked hard and lived an upright existence might, upon attaining some wealth, call himself señó.4 But if his money came from dishonest dealings that somehow did not result in jail—a relatively rare combination—he would never dare to place any sort of honorific before his name. Rather, he was simply so-and-so. Disdained by the better half, his only contact with them came when he provided some sort of service, and usually not of the honest sort.

Like all social canons, this law was subject to frequent exceptions. The pardo who managed to distinguish himself by his superior intelligence,