How could one best describe the character of Miss Jane Pittman as created by Ernest J. Gaines in his acclaimed novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman?
Some writers might have created Miss Jane Pittman to be a bitter character, based on her early life, which was informed by the tragedy of slavery, the Jim Crow era and a long series of decades that led to the sometimes violent Civil Rights movement; however, Gaines created instead a woman who is a survivor, one willing to share her story in a straightforward manner, without whining, but acknowledging all the same her distaste for the government, white people, and her own tendency to dislike many people immediately. In this sense, she is a complex, realistic character, and Gaines resists the temptation to make her look like a flawless heroine. However, Jane also has a conscience that leads her to believe in the necessity of one doing what's right, even when it inconveniences others or causes them pain, uch as when she loses her adopted son after encouraging him to continue his work in civil rights. She believes in the principle of standing up for what is right, and is willing to do it when necessary.