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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

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"This is a novel in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960's. In this woman... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Lifetime of Lessons

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman stands the test of time. It is indeed a novel rich in the very fabric of America's story, for both Blacks and Whites. It's meaning and underlying messages are timeless; it is no less pure today than it was when first conceived 30 years ago. A "must" read for all that consider themselves to be historians and students of fine American literature.

Civil war to civil rights

It surprises me how many people think that The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is an actual biographical/autobiographical work. It is not -- it is fiction. It is a brilliantly crafted work interweaving historical references and recollections into an overall framework of the life of a woman born into slavery who survived to the point of the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The style of the book is one of oral history. The editor interviewed and transcribed Miss Jane's stories beginning in 1962 and going on for nearly a year. The editor also talked to other people, particularly when Miss Jane would fall silent or forget things (he couldn't tell if she was doing this deliberately or not), and also talked to people after Miss Jane's funeral. In a small space, the author (who is to be distinguished from the editor, a character in the novel) shows his intention -- this is to be an overarching story of black experience from the Civil War to Civil Rights, seen primarily through the experience of one woman, but incorporating and representing the experiences of all others. The telling of the tale begins in the Civil War, where Miss Jane is child (she can't actually remember when she was born). Her name at that point was Ticey. Her first story deals with negotiating the delicate balance between fleeing Confederate soldiers, arriving Union soldiers, and the dominant presence of the mistress of the plantation. It was a Union soldier who suggested the name of Jane to Ticey ('Ticey is a slave name' the corporal said). Thus she became Jane. Jane Brown, adopting the last name of the corporal. Unfortunately for Jane, the mistress didn't like this, and tried to beat the name out of her. Jane refused to recant the name, and got put out in the field for her 'sass'. A year later, when the war ended, she set out for Ohio, the state where the corporal who named her had lived. The decision was a tough one -- the older folk didn't want to risk the journey, perhaps a case of better the devil you know. The young folks, however, were having none of the continuing presence of a master and mistress. They set out right away. Jane bid farewell to her Uncle Isom and set out with a group of people, some misfits, some smart. Soon they had their first run-in with the forerunners of the Klan. From her hiding place, Jane watched the 'patrollers' kill Big Laura, the mother-figure of the group, and all of the rest of the travellers. Suddenly she was alone save for Ned, Big Laura's little boy. She was a mother figure right away. Being resourceful and pragmatic as a slave is forced to learn to be from earliest days, she grabbed the supplies and left with Ned, still hoping to travel to Ohio. However, fortune and lack of proper directions led Jane and Ned into many encounters through the south, and when finding someone who has a map, they also come to the realisation that there might be difficulty in finding soldier Brown in Ohio. Which part of Ohio is he

An incredibly valuable historical resource!

I'd thought that it wouldn't be possible for a man to write GOOD fiction from a woman's point of view. "She's Come Undone" proved my point. "Memoirs of A Geisha" proved me wrong - and I thought I'd never again find a well written fictional piece about a woman and written by a man. Ernest J. Gaines proved me once again wrong in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman."Jane, born Ticey, was "interviewed" by a man who was interested in the life of a woman who'd lived from Slavery to Civil Rights. Jane was given her name by a Yankee soldier whom she'd been told to give water by her Mistress, and it was Jane's name from then on.When the slaves were freed, she set out with several going North. Secesh men who'd been soldiers during the Civil War (in other words, days before!) killed everyone they could find - everyone except Jane and the son of another former slave. Jane was either ten or eleven years old at the time. She traveled with the child, Ned, and raised him as her own.This book goes through her life, through the triumphs and the disappointments, through the times she spent on different plantations and doing different jobs. Working my way through the vernacular was a challenge, but it added credibility to the story. Hatred based on skin color is rampant throughout the book; so is Miss Jane's knowing "her place." Nonetheless, she tells with touching sorrow of the love of a white man for a Creole teacher. Happiest in the fields, she was incredibly profound when she spoke of talking to the trees: "Anybody caught talking to a chinaball tree or a thorn tree got to be crazy. But when you talk to an oak tree that's been here all these years, and knows more than you'll ever know, it's not craziness; it's just the nobility you respect." Her stories give new meaning to "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." There are those who will dissect the book for symbolism. It's not necessary to do so; "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" carries itself just fine.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is an inspiring novel. It explores many events that took place in our history. Miss Jane Pittman is a black woman who battled for her freedom during the time period of slavery. When she was eleven years old she began her battle of freedom. But she never relived that she would battle for her freedom for the rest of her life. When she was eleven she took on the resonability of a young boy Ned. He was about her age. When reading this novel chapter by chapter it was like watching Jane and Ned (the boy) grow into wise and hard working people. Befro I read the this novel I never relized how harsh and crul that people were treated in this time period. The setting of the novel was imporant. Both Ned and Jane was travling by foot to seek freedom. And the setting never changed through out the novel no matter were they went. The novel helped me discover history that I had never heard of. A few little wars went on in the novel that many people don't even know of. This was an very inspiring novel. The novel also made me relize how people struggle just to stay alive. It made me look at freedom in a compleatley diffrent way than what I had looked at it befor. I highley recomened this novel to evey one.

The Autobiogrphy of Miss Jane Pittman

This book was astonishing. I am an African American woman and I felt relieved that this book didn't exlot us and it showed grest strength and love.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman Mentions in Our Blog

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman in Pause and Call Them 'Blessed'
Pause and Call Them 'Blessed'
Published by William Shelton • May 13, 2023
Motherhood is a complicated role, and every culture from the dawn of man has placed the burden of great expectations on mothers. How fitting, right, and proper it is that we pause annually to rise up and call 'blessed' those women who brought us into being through pain, tears, and toil.
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