The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and the Representation of Southern Black Experience College
Ernest Gaines’s novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman  may be considered a representation of the black Southern experience, with the titular heroine serving as a symbol for the collective of her ethnicity as opposed to a character who holds her own individual significance. Indeed, the story told by Gaines through the eyes of Miss Jane is largely reflective of the common lives of black people in the American South, suggesting that it is indeed true that “Miss Jane’s story is all of their stories and their stories are Miss Jane’s” (v). However, alongside this notion, there simultaneously emerges the sense that Miss Jane’s individuality is in actual fact just as crucial to the rendering of the black Southern experience as her standing as a metaphorical symbol for “all of their stories” (viii).
It is tempting to argue that Gaines’s fictional rendering of a black, Southern woman’s autobiography is primarily a portrayal of the wider black Southern experience, as opposed to the telling of her individual experience. From this viewpoint, the character of Jane Pittman becomes more of a symbol for the collective narrative and history of her race than an individual in her own right. Lisa Hinrichsen categorizes Gaines’s text as a...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 753 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4769 literature essays, 1491 sample college application essays, 189 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in