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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Ernest J. Gaines

Book 3: The Plantation

Book 3: The Plantation

Book 3: The Plantation, page 2

page 1 of 2

From Huey P. Long through Confession


Huey P. Long

Jane reflects upon Huey P. Long and remembers him as a good man who tried to help poor Louisianans, both whites and blacks. Although he called blacks "niggers," he also gave them free books to read and helped them in other ways. Jane feels rich whites had Huey Long assassinated because he tried to help the poor.

Miss Lilly

Jane moves into a house near the Big House, now that she works there all the time. Because she has extra room, the new schoolteacher, Miss Lilly, comes and lives with her. Miss Lilly teaches the children but also wants to reform them socially by making them dress up and brush their teeth (she buys them all toothbrushes when they cannot afford it). Miss Lilly also gets into fights with parents about their harsh disciplining of children. Miss Lilly never adapts to the plantation world where the students cannot take school seriously because they have to work. After a year, she leaves. The next schoolteacher, Hardy is a black man who begs everyone for money saying that the government does not pay him enough. He also flirts with the girls in school. One evening, a father and his son beat Hardy for flirting with their daughter/sister. When Hardy complains to the Sheriff, the Sheriff tells him to get out of the town. Hardy leaves and the school has no teacher for a year until Mary Agnes LeFarbre comes.

The LeFarbres

The new teacher, Mary Agnes LeFabre, is a Catholic Creole, who appears to be almost white. Her grandmother was an octoroon who became the lady of a white man, Mr. LeFarbre. Her children took his name even though they were not married, and upon his death, he left them property, including slaves. Mary Agnes longs to make amends for her family's slave holding past, so she has come to work on the plantation. Her family disowns her when she comes to the plantation. Once when her father visits her, he slaps her; the next time, he weeps but still she remains. The Creole culture has strict ideas about the lightness of skin tone, and Mary Agnes's association with dark people brings them shame. Jane tells a story about some local blacks who almost got lynched after they tried to sneak into a Creole party. The Creoles supposedly maintain high standards and act better than everyone else.

A Flower in Winter

Tee Bob now is at university in Baton Rouge and comes home usually once a week to see his family. When he returns because of his uncle's death, he first sees Mary Agnes. Mary Agnes has come to the kitchen to get some firewood from Jane, and Tee Bob sees her face through the door. Tee Bob asks Jane if Mary is white, and Jane tells him that she is not. Tee Bob still is smitten. After first seeing her, Tee Bob starts returning to the plantation several times a week. Soon he starts coming every day. One day he stops in the schoolroom and stands awkwardly around looking at Mary Agnes while the whole class stops and stares up at him. Finally, one evening as Mary is waiting for the bus to go to New Orleans, as she does every weekend, he walks up to her and talks with her.


Tee Bob starts spending a lot of time at the plantation because of Mary Agnes. They frequently walk and talk together, while Tee Bob sits on his horse and Mary Agnes walks beside him. One night, Miss Jane asks Mary about it. Mary refers to Tee Bob as "Robert" and insists that she has everything under control and that nothing will happen. Finally, Tee Bob's mother, Miss Amma Dean, asks Jane about Mary Agnes. Miss Amma Dean does not want her son fooling around with a black woman as her husband did. Tee Bob, although visiting Mary Agnes, is actually engaged to Judy Major, a local white girl. Eventually, the Samsons throw them an engagement party. Before it starts, Tee Bob tells his friend Jimmy Caya that he is love with Mary Agnes. Jimmy Caya reminds Tee Bob that Mary is black and that love between them is impossible. He suggests that Tee Bob should have sex with Mary Agnes as much as possible, but that Tee Bob cannot love her because she is a "nigger." Tee Bob strikes Jimmy after this comment and then becomes quiet. Jimmy and Tee Bob go back to the Samson house, but Jimmy soon after goes out. As he is leaving, he sees Tee Bob raise a glass to him, and Jimmy thinks Tee Bob is apologizing for hitting him, although Jane knows that he truly was saying good-bye.

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