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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is usually categorized as Southern fiction, African-American fiction, or sometimes even the more general historical fiction. Gaines created a unique structure to tell this story, setting it up as an interview between a fictitious high school history teacher, who is looking for authentic primary source information to make history come alive, and the fictitious, 110 year old Miss Jane Pittman, whose life extends back to the days of slavery prior to the American Civil War and has continued on through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's.
Gaines's ability to capture the flavor of the South is sometimes compared to that of William Faulkner, whose influence in his writing is not difficult to see. Miss Pittman recounts her experiences in a way that combines the features of oral history with the old slave narratives, using her own native black dialect, and earning Gaines the credit for creating a historical narrative fraught with realism and personal history.
It is historical fiction.
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