The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

by Ernest J. Gaines

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Book 2, Chapters 13-14 Summary

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Jane exclaims that she knows Ned is dead before she is told. She is lying in bed when she sees a light flash through her room. She sits up in bed and knows someone shot Ned. So she runs to his home, where she is met by one of the boys who had been with Ned and witnessed the shooting.

As the word spreads of Ned’s death, everyone in the community comes out to mourn him. Jane makes the statement that even though these people did not support Ned’s school, they came to his house to grieve for him. Jane tells them all to go back home. She does not think all the noise they are making is good for Ned’s widow, Vivian. Jane makes Vivian go to bed and leaves a woman to watch over her. Then Jane asks to be alone with Ned. She talks to him as if he were still alive. Later, she cannot remember what she said. All she recalls is that someone came into the room and saw her lying on Ned’s body. Blood had soaked all her clothes.

When the sheriff appears, he asks the two students who were with Ned at the time of the shooting to come to his office in town the next day. When the boys appear, the sheriff insinuates that the students are lying when they identify the shooter as Albert Cluveau. Albert has claimed that he was nowhere near the site of the killing. The sheriff believes Cluveau, and that is the end of the case.

Vivian stays in the area and wants to take over Ned’s school, but Jane convinces her that it would be too dangerous. In the end, Vivian gives in and moves back to Kansas. Another man is hired to teach Ned’s students, but he does not teach any controversial material. He teaches reading and math, as the white people in town tell him to do.

After Ned’s death, Jane begins looking for Cluveau. She goes to his house but his daughters tell her that their father has just left. Every time Jane stops at his house, she receives the same answer. One day, Jane pretends she is leaving after Cluveau’s daughters tell her the same story. Jane waits until she sees Cluveau in the backyard. As soon as he notices Jane, Cluveau runs into the swamp.

Jane and Cluveau eventually have an accidental meeting. They happened to be riding on the same road. Although Cluveau refuses to look at Jane, she tells him a curse has been placed on his soul because he murdered Ned. Word spreads that Jane has used Black Magic on Cluveau. Everyone believes she has the power to do that. Jane knows nothing about magic, but that does not stop her from believing that Cluveau will one day suffer for the miserable things he has done in his life.

It takes more than ten years for Cluveau to die. Jane claims that by then she no longer cared if the man suffered. Neighbors told her, though, that Cluveau screamed out for several days before he died. No one could comfort him, including doctors.

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