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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Ernest J. Gaines

Book 2: Reconstruction

Book 2: Reconstruction

Book 2: Reconstruction, page 2

page 1 of 2

From Another Home to Professor Douglass

Summary

Another Home

Joe eventually finds a ranch on the Louisiana-Texas border that offers him a job. Colonel Dye does not want Joe to leave because Joe's work is so good and even offers Joe a sharecropping plot, but Joe insists on going. The Colonel then recollects that he once paid the Klan 150 dollars to get Joe out of trouble, and Joe needs to repay him before leaving. Joe leaves and is able to borrow the money from the boss on his new ranch. The Colonel is astonished that Joe has found the money, but he demands thirty dollars of interest. Joe takes twenty-five dollars from Jane, that Ned had sent her, and sells all his belongings to make thirty. After he pays the Colonel and gets a receipt, he leaves with Jane and his two daughters.

Molly

Joe, Jane, and his daughters walk for days to the new ranch. Upon arrival, they are given a house and fed heartily. Joe will work each day with the horses and Jane will work in the house. The first time Jane works in the house an older black woman named Molly tries to get her to leave by hitting her, ignoring her, and shoving her. Molly has worked in the house since slavery and nursed the mistress herself, Miss Clare. Molly views all other black women in the house as competitors and has managed to get rid of them in various ways. Miss Clare refuses to fire Jane, though, and as a result Molly quits. Molly finds work with another white woman and frequently returns to drink tea with Miss Clare. Not too long after she leaves, Molly dies, and Jane believes that she did so because of a broken heart.

A Dollar for Two

Jane and Joe stay on the ranch for about ten years. Joe is named Chief Breaker because he is the best at breaking horses, and although the two had saved up several hundred dollars and discussed finding their own place, he still wants to work with horses. Soon Jane starts worrying about Joe getting killed by a horse. She has a recurring dream where one horse throws him against a fence. Joe laughs at her worries. One night in a February however, Jane walks by the corral and sees a black stallion that is the horse from her terrible dream. She tells Joe. He laughs and tells all the other men about it at dinner. The sight of the black stallion gives Jane the chills.

Man's Way

Jane is so worried about the stallion that she consults a Creole voodoo woman, Madame Gautier, in town. Madame Gautier comes from New Orleans and tells Jane that Joe needs to break horses in order to prove himself as a man. Jane cannot give Joe more children and for that reason, amongst many others, Joe feels compelled to always show his manhood. It is "man's way." Upon Jane's request, Madame Gautier gives her some powder to sprinkle by Jane's bed so that Joe will not get on the horse. After seeing Madame Gautier, Jane feels sick all week. The night before Joe is going to break the horse, Jane heads to the corral. Before she knows what she is doing, she has opened the fence and tried to get the horse to run. Joe sees her and runs toward the corral, but the stallion escapes. Joe tosses Jane out of the corral, climbs on his horse, and takes off after him. The next morning the other men bring back the stallion, Joe, and Joe's horse. Joe had managed to lasso the stallion, but the stallion dragged Joe through the swamp so that he died. The ranch holds a wake for Joe. At the rodeo that follows, the crowd mourns him before the start. Another man breaks the black stallion, and Joe's daughter, soon after, decides to marry him. They head to Texas. A few years after Joe dies, Miss Jane meets a fisherman named Felton who takes her down to the Southwestern part of Louisiana. She and Felton live together for three years, but one day he leaves without warning. Although she is alone again, she discovers that Ned is coming.

Professor Douglass

The summer after 1898 Ned arrives with his wife, Vivian, and their three children. He comes in his Army uniform, and Miss Jane can scarcely recognize him. Ned wants to start a school for local black children, since there is not one in the area. Ned tells Jane about the ideas of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, about helping the other colored people, and Jane is amazed. In the following weeks, Ned tries to find people interested in his project, but everyone is scared. Eventually, he buys a house by the road and starts teaching classes out of it. He also buys a piece of land on the riverbank where he will build his school. Still all the blacks are afraid, and the whites start watching him.

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