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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Ernest J. Gaines
Quotes Important Quotations Explained
Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Anytime a child is born, the old people look in his face and ask him if he's the One.

Miss Jane Pittman says this at the very beginning of Book Four. Her quote sets the theme for the final section of the novel: the search for a savior for the black race. The elders of the plantation select Jimmy Aaron as the "One" that will lead them forward. Even though Jimmy does not know that he is the One, the community constantly monitors him so that he will develop properly. The elders longing for "the One" hearken back to the Bible, most obviously to the idea of a messianic figure like Jesus Christ. As Jimmy Aaron grows, he will become a leader that differs from what the elders expect, however. They wish him to become involved in the church, but he instead gets involved in politics. His involvement in the growing Civil Rights movement leads him to mobilize political action in Bayonne and, in turn, leads to his death. Although he has died, the political movement that he organized still continues, led by Jane and another youth. In his martyrdom, again another biblical theme, Jimmy has liberated them from their enslaving fear.