"Miss Jane Pittman" By Ernest James Gaines.

1522 words - 6 pages

Title: The Autobiography Of Miss Jane PittmanAuthor: Ernest J. GainesYear and place published: 1971, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, and Auckland.Number of pages: 259Type of Book: Fictional AutobiographyBiography of Author:Ernest James Gaines was born in 1933 on River Lake Plantation in Louisiana. He is the author of six novels including the widely acclaimed Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Gaines' fiction deals exclusively with life in rural black America, specifically in the fictional town of Bayonne, Louisiana. His work explores universal themes such as the conflict between tradition and change, relationships between father and son, and the importance of maintaining dignity. Gaines learned the art of storytelling firsthand in his home because it was filled with visitors who gossiped and told elaborate ghost stories and folk tales. At 15, Gaines moved to Vallejo, California, where he spent hours in the library reading Willa Cather, Turgenev, and Chekhov. He also read novels dealing with life in the American South, which he found "untrue and unreal." In 1957 Gaines committed himself to the idea of becoming a professional writer in order to "truly write about what he knows and feels." He studied creative writing at Stanford University on a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing Fellowship. Among his awards are the Joseph Henry Jackson award and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant.Summary of plotJane Pittman is born into slavery on a plantation somewhere in Louisiana. Jane is called "Ticey" during her days as a slave and has no parents; her mother died as a result of a beating when Jane was a child, and Jane did not know her father. Until she is around nine, Jane works in the Big House caring for the white children. One day toward the end of the war, some fleeing confederate soldiers arrive, followed soon after by some union soldiers. While being served water by Jane, one Union soldier named Corporal Brown tells Jane that she will soon be free and can then visit him in Ohio. He tells her to change her name and offers her that of his daughter, Jane Brown. After the soldiers leave, Jane refuses to answer when her mistress calls her "Ticey." The mistress later beats Jane until she bleeds, but Jane insists that her name is now Jane Brown. Because of her obstinacy, Jane is sent to work in the fields.On the day of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jane's master frees them all. On the same day, Jane leaves the plantation with a group of ex-slaves. They have no idea where they are going, but a woman named Big Laura leads the way. Jane wants to go to Ohio to find Corporal Brown. The first morning away, a group of "Patrollers," local white trash who used to hunt slaves, comes upon them and kills everyone but Jane and a very young boy Ned, whom they did not find. Jane and Ned then continue on their own, still headed for Ohio. They meet many characters on their trip, all of whom tell Jane that Ohio is too far and that she should go back to...

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