The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  6,424 ratings  ·  170 reviews

Miss Jane Pittman. She is one of the most unforgettable heroines in American fiction, a woman whose life has come to symbolize the struggle for freedom, dignity, and justice. Ernest J. Gaines’s now-classic novel—written as an autobiography—spans one hundred years of Miss Jane’s remarkable life, from her childhood as a slave on a Louisiana plantation to the Civil Rights er...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published January 1st 1971)
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Dec 09, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: Jessie, Member goodreads group On the Southern Literary Trail
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman: Ernest J. Gaines' novel of the long journey to freedom

A Note from the incomplete reader

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was originally published by Ernest J. Gainesthrough the Dial Press in 1971. A second printing followed in 1972.

The Second Printing

However, it was not until 1974 when Gaine's novel was filmed as a television movie that sales mushroomed with the issue of the mass-market Bantam Paperback tie-in edition. The movie aired on CBS. Cicely...more
I am kind of stingy with my ratings -- I would make it a 2 1/2 if I could, because it was better than "okay" but I didn't quite "like" it. I didn't DISlike it, either. After reading "The Help," I wanted to read some more historical fiction taking place during the Civil Rights Movement. This biography was suggested to me by the librarian, and it was a pretty easy read. It followed the life of Jane Pittman from her childhood as a slave through emancipation, trying to get out of Louisiana, then as...more
This is a very impressive epic adorned with humor and founded in the lessons of overcoming tragedy either through battle or sheer resilience. As a novel itself it is wonderfully written in a lyrical prose with great, revealing dialogue. It is, however, much more than a novel.

I had to read it over ten years ago in eighth grade history class, yet I can still recall the many different stories comprising the biography, nearly chronicling all the various manifestations of race relations throughout Am...more
Mya Sunshine
Ernest Gaines has been trying for so long to get in interview with the legendary Miss.Jane Pittman. This book practically covers her whole life story going from her childhood when she was still in slavery to when the war was going to her sons life to where she is now.
I have read the book so many times but i always feel that I am learning something new every time I read it again.As of my response to this story I feel like he did a really good job putting it together and making sure that he got al...more
Mar 24, 2008 Ivannah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Ivannah by: 1001 novels to read before you die
Shelves: favorites
I read this book in two sittings. It wasn't easy at first, but once you got introduced to Miss Jane Pittman the rest was easy. How could you not love a character, a woman, so enduring? How could you not weep at the loss of her only "son". This story is written richly, and with so much emotion that you can't help but to pull for her. Though, the subject matter was dark, the book itself wasn't dark. There were times when you heart ached because of all the suffering, and despair. When they were hop...more
The novel tells the story of Miss Jane Pittman, a 110 year old African American woman who tells the story of her life. Her story spans from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the Vietnam War, highlighting different historical events and figures. Jane's accounts help put in perspective what it must have been like to be an African American during those times and highlight why the civil rights movement was so important for our country. While the story is told from Jane's view point, the i...more
Charles Franklin
An incredible family saga...
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines is an inspiring autobiography. The reason why I chose to read this autobiography is because the cover caught my eye. The picture of Cicely Tyson on the front cover which plays Jane Pittman. I haven’t seen the movie but I’m sure that I will better understand times from before and the struggle of surviving. I also picked it because biographies inspire me most of the time because they always have struggles they overcome to become a greater...more
Maia B.
I couldn't finish.

The first hundred pages were great, don't get me wrong. Jane fascinated me; her "voice" was clear and strong and her personality came through distinctly. The events she lived through were really interesting. Then...well, she sort of gave up going to Ohio.

After a while, she began to say things like, "I found a job and stayed there ten years." This Robinson Crusoe way of skipping over vast stretches of time drove me crazy. And then Mary Agnes and Tee was starting to soun...more
Every since I was a little girl I have had a strange obsession with the past. 19th century black slavery is my favorite era, than 1940's, than 1960's. I love the Harlem Renaissance, I love all things civil rights, but it's something about 19th century slavery. Cabins, white women dresses with the petticoat underneath, dirt roads, the "big house," horse and buggies for cars, the dialect, the stories, and most importantly the messages. My mother's ex-boyfriend forced me to watch the entire miniser...more
Anneta Susan
The voice this author had impressed me and was the first thing that made this book a true classic. His writing was declamatory and very clear. I respected how the author could tell the stories of other characters through the narrative of Miss. Jane Pittman and make each one, from the teachers to her son unforgettable. At first when Jane Pittman didn't achive arriving in Colorado I was concerned with what the author was going to do next and how he could make her into a heroine. She was a strong p...more
Miss Jane Pittman
What I like about the book is that Miss Pittman was a very strong woman even with all the pain she went though. I like Ned the little boy Miss Pittman helped get away from the war. Ned grew up to be a teacher so he could go back and teach the other children. Miss Pittman admired the fact that he cared about the children’s education. The Yankee officer was a good character because he was so nice; he cared about people that were being treated like unkind. Maybe because he thought...more
Gaines is a master with voices. I came away from the book feeling sad, because I wanted to spend more time with Miss Jane.

I also learned some surprising things about history-- from slavery and the civil war, to the civil rights period--details I haven't seen elsewhere.

It's hard to say which I like more-- A Lesson Before Dying or this book. I think Lesson is probably richer on more levels, but like I said, Miss Jane it just someone you really want to know. I can't wait to read more of Gaines' bo...more
Samantha Wing
I makes me feel really sorry for Jane she started as a slave going to freedom and then getting turned back into a slave. It's really hard for me to imagine what life was for a African American, but it sounds like that they hard super hard time. I really hate when when people get killed and for a reason. Miss Lily is kinda harsh on the kids. I still can't get the book. There are way to many facts. So many fact that I can't keep track of.
I first read this in order to teach it to 9th graders 3 years ago and fell in love with it. I was dreading teaching it again this year, but as I reread it, I fell in love with it over again. Its the book I teach that best sucks my students into the world of its characters.
Feb 25, 2008 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Black History Month
Recommended to Laura by: Book Club
The book started off well, but I basically finished it for a bookclub. The writing became disjointed, and I never felt like I connected to the character of Jane Pittman after she reached adulthood.
Shana Burton
Mar 27, 2008 Shana Burton rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: low-interest, apathetic high school students
I really like this book. I've taught it to my 9th grade classes, who were so captivated by this book that I didn't have the heart to tell them that it was fiction.
I'm not sure how I ever go this far without reading this. I'm glad I've fixed that oversight.

I remember seeing the television movie back in the 70's but though I can remember having watched it I don't remember much of anything about it so reading the book was a fresh experience.

Gaines has produced one of those novels that feels more like nonfiction than fiction. His characters feel real, like they are products of the eras and places they inhabit. Though I never lived through the events described...more
An engrossing and inspiring life story, that caused me to stop and think often.
Cass Barlow
This was a great book, rich in history.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Schmalz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I just finished the book and I don't believe it. I'm not going to beat around the bush so ill just say it was BAD. I hated this book for most of the last half. Towards the beginning it was ok but it got worse and worse.
In all truthfulness I actually enjoyed the first third of the book. It was actually an interesting tale of the young girl's travels through a rough world. And towards the beginning it had very interesting characters and lots of cool little mini tales.
The worst part was that the e...more
Noah Kellstedt
P.3 to p. 31. This book is about colored slave girl named Ticey. The story starts with Ticey finally behind free from the plantation she was living in. She is 12 years old. She meets this civil war soldier named Mister Brown and he calls her Jane he wants to adopt her and she wants him to do so. Mr. Brown tells her that he wants her to meet her in Ohio. She now leaves in Louisiana. She is going to walk all the way. During the walk she meets big Laura, a strong woman who will walk with her all th...more
Have you ever wanted freedom and then got it and then didn't know what to do with it? This happened to Miss Jane Pittman. Pittman was only eleven or twelve years old when she was freed from slavery. When she was freed her heart was set on Ohio, but she didn't know how to get there. And on top of that she had to take care of a little boy, Ned, while she tried to find her way to Ohio. On her way she met tons of people. She met people who wanted to demolish her race. She met people who wanted to he...more
The book "Autobiograhy of Miss Jane Pittman" really made me think a lot about how times have changed. Jane pittman was born into slavery on a plantation in Luisiana. Although her name is Jane, her owners called her "Ticey." One day some union soldiers arive, and Jane serves them water. A man named Corporal Brown asks her her name and tells her one day she will be free, and says her name is no longer Jane Pittman its Jane Brown, after his own daughter.
Because of this Jane refuses to listen to...more
boy, i remember struggling to read this. it was my summer reading book, and i had to have it done for school. i even had my mom read it to me. such a notion now would be unthinkable. needless to say, i have mixed feelings about this book. i clearly liked it, when i moved out, i took it with me. but i had to have my mom read it to me! i clearly found it boring at the time. plus, i read slow. correction, i still read slow. so with the added pressure of a time crunch, i paniced and therefore read e...more
This book marries my love of oral history with my interest in the history of race in America. Gaines has written as if he was collecting an oral history, providing the reader with the interviewer's voice only in the short introduction. The rest of the book is in the words of Miss Jane Pittman, from the time she was eleven until her final bold move, nearly 100 years later. The contrast between what she intended to do as that eleven year old (and was unable to) and what she did not initially inten...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I got t a copy of this book this last spring when the high school I work at was cleaning out the library. I was excited to read it based on it's high ratings on goodreads and I'm a sucker for southern writing. Overall I would say I liked it but didn't love it. It gives a good overview of life in the south for african americans from the end of the civil war through the civil rights movement. I liked the voice, although as it uses southern slang and there were a couple words I never figured out wh...more
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What was the funniest part of this book? 1 6 Oct 01, 2012 02:56PM  
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Born to a sharecropping family, Ernest Gaines was picking cotton in the fields by age nine and only attended school five or six months a year. When he was fifteen, he moved to California to join his mother who had relocated during World War II, and began writing. He attended San Francisco State University, served in the army, and won a writing fellowship to Stanford University. Gaines has been a M...more
More about Ernest J. Gaines...
A Lesson Before Dying A Gathering of Old Men Of Love and Dust In My Father's House Bloodline: Five Stories

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“Anytime a child is born, the old people look in his face and ask him if he's the One.” 6 likes
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