Joe Pittman is an honorable, brave, and kindly man. Joe Pittman has a vision of his life and he acts upon. He is skilled in the way of breaking horses, so he rises up and finds a new job. Colonel Dye attempts to trap Joe by saying that Joe owes him one hundred and fifty dollars. While many men would give up when faced with such a sum, Joe matter-of-factly goes out and borrows the money from his new boss. When the Colonel requests added interest, Joe manages to gather that too, by selling almost everything he owns. The Colonel wants to trick Joe into staying, but Joe bravely steps past the Colonel's tricks. Joe's act is brave because the Colonel could easily request that Joe be killed for beaten for the impertinence of wanting to leave at all, or for the impertinence of finding the money to pay back the debt. Joe insistent behavior shows him to be a strong man. Joe is a black man who longs to be appreciated for his abilities, not his race. In a culture that requires servile black manhood, Joe finds a job, breaking horses, with which he can demonstrate his masculinity. Joe is so good at his job, in fact, that he becomes the Chief Breaker at the ranch. All men, white and black, respect Joe in spite of the color of his skin. Unfortunately, while Joe does manage to show his manhood, his manly desire for control gets the better of him. Although he has aged, he insists on taking on the tremendous black stallion. The black stallion kills him, but truly it is Joe's yearning to constantly control that leads to his downfall. Joe's desire is a very human one Gaines suggests, which the Creole hoodoo lady calls "Man's Way".
More characters from The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
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