Analysis of Miss Jane Pittman
Essay title: Analysis of Miss Jane Pittman
In Ernest Gaines novel, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, he stresses the importance of education of black men from the period of slavery to the civil rights movement. Education has not always been available to African Americans. During the time of slavery education was very limited as not many people were educated, especially blacks. Schools for blacks were often destroyed and those found teaching them were usually killed. A lack of education was one way that whites were able to keep control over blacks along with violence to make people scared to challenge their treatment. Throughout the book there were several educated black men that made their way into Miss Jane’s life, two of which were raised by Miss Jane and were like children to her. Although they lived in two different time periods Ned and Jimmy understood the importance of education and both attempted to each attempted to bring education to their people in their own way.
Ned was raised by Miss Jane and they traveled together for years. They eventually settled in Louisiana and Ned started going to school to get an education. Ned became a very smart and bright young man. He began putting his education to good use and started aiding other blacks around him. Ned continued to pass his knowledge on to others and until he was forced to leave town for fear of death. Although Ned left town he continued educating others and would often bring together a small group of people to convey his teachings and principles to them. During this time period slavery had just been abolished and free thinking, outspoken black men like Ned were killed for gathering others and attempting to change the way things were. Ned shows us that he is committed to his cause when he says “The black man or white man who tell you to stay in a corner want to keep your mind in a corner too. I’m building that school so you’ll have a chance to from out of that corner” (Gaines 115) Men were sent to kill Ned if he refused to stop speaking but that did not stop him. It becomes apparent that Ned knows he will die soon and says “I myself probably’ll be killed by a white man”. (Gaines 112) Shortly after his meetings Ned was shot and killed.
Jimmy was also raised by Miss Jane and was educated like Ned. Jimmy was born in the civil rights era where slavery was no more but racism and violence still existed. Jimmy was so smart that “By the time he is nine, he can read better than anyone except the schoolteacher”. (Zafian) The civil rights movement inspired Jimmy and takes him father away from the small town in which he grew up in. Jimmy was interested in helping his people overcome the injustice they were facing and joined up with others