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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Ernest J. Gaines

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Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics

full title ·  The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

author ·  Ernest J. Gaines

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  African-American novel; Southern novel; American modern novel

language ·  English

time and place written ·  1967–1970, southwestern Louisiana

date of first publication ·  1971

publisher ·  Bantam Books

narrator ·  An implicit author, who collected the autobiography of Miss Jane, documents the introduction to the book. Miss Jane narrates the remainder of the book in the first person.

point of view ·  The two narrators generally alternate between the first and third person. They use the first person when describing their perceptions and personal actions. They use the third person when describing those around them.

tone ·  The schoolteacher's narrative uses formal English. Miss Jane describes her experiences in a southern dialect common to Louisiana.

tense ·  Past

setting (time) ·  From slavery through the 1960s

setting (place) ·  Different parts of Louisiana

protagonist ·  Miss Jane Pittman

major conflict ·  Attempt to establish racial equality in the south

rising action ·  Ned Douglass's attempt to organize a protest; Tee Bob's suicide; Jimmy Aaron's selection as "the One"

climax ·  Jimmy Aaron's murder before his organized political action

falling action ·  Jane Pittman leading the march, despite Jimmy's death.

themes ·  The legacy of slavery; manhood; class differences in race

motifs ·  Horses; slave narratives; names

symbols ·  The black stallion; Ned's flint; the river

foreshadowing ·  Joe Pittman's death; predictions of Ned's Death; Tee Bob's response to Timmy's departure; Tee Bob's punching of Jimmy Caya

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