"Y'all got boys," he told them. "Young boys, old boys, picky boys, stroppin boys. Now at Sweet Home, my n*****s is men every one of em. Bought em thataway, raised em thataway. Men every one."
"Beg to differ, Garner. Ain't no n***** men."
"Not if you scared, they ain't." Garner's smile was wide. "But if you a man yourself, you'll want your n*****s to be men too."
"I wouldn't have no n***** men round my wife."
It was the reaction Garner loved and waited for. "Neither would I," he said. "Neither would I," and there was always a pause before the neighbor, or stranger, or peddler, or brother-in-law or whoever it was got the meaning. Then a fierce argument, sometimes a fight, and Garner came home bruised and please, having demonstrated one more time what a real Kentuckian was: one tough enough and smart enough to make and call his own n*****s men. (1.80-84)
On the one hand, Garner seems like a pretty cool guy. He's willing to go against the grain—publicly—and call "his own n*****s men." On the other hand, we're a little disturbed by Garner. For starters, he still owns these men; plus, it's almost like he's bragging about his ability to manage his "n*****s" like "men" in order to show how masculine and tough he is. So he's using his slaves to showcase his identity. We're definitely nowhere near equality with Garner.