What do we learn about Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz as a child and young woman from "The Response to Sor Filotea?"
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz wrote "Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz."
Research shows that Juana Inez was a bright child with a deep desire to read and learn. Boys were educated at the time, but not girls. She was discouraged, even scolded for reading, but she taught herself by sneaking into the library in her grandfather's house. Her intellect brought her a great deal of attention, but she would ultimately join the church, with no desire to marry.
In "Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz," she writes:
What is true and I will not deny (first because it is public knowledge and then—even if this counts against me— because God, in His goodness, has favored me with a great love of the truth) is that from my first glimmers of reason, my inclination to letters was of such power and vehemence, that neither the reprimands of others— and I have received many—nor my own considerations—and there have been not a few of those—have succeeded in making me abandon this natural impulse which God has implanted in me . . .
Juana Inez continues, writing about her early education. She was not encouraged to learn, but eventually was given lessons.
I say that has not satisfied the three years of my age when my mother sent my sister, older than me, to be taught to read in one of the she calls friends, he took me behind her the love and mischief, and seeing that the lesson gave me so I turned on the desire to read, that cheating, in my opinion, the teacher, told me Mother ordered to give me lessons. She did not believe, because it was not credible, but for the grace to please, give me one. I went on to go and she continued to teach, not of ridicule, because the experience disillusioned, and I learned to read in such a short time, I knew when I knew my mother, whom the teacher hid him for giving him a taste for whole and receive the award for together, and I said nothing, thinking that I whipped for doing so without a warrant.
Juana Inez admits that after she learned to read and write, she discovered that young men were educated in universities. At that point she began to beg her mother to allow her to dress as a young man and travel to Mexico to study. She was denied her request and had to make due with reading books in her grandfather's library. Later, she admits, when she traveled to Mexico, people there were impressed with how much she knew.