The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

by Ernest J. Gaines

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Book 3, Chapters 7-9 Summary

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Creoles (people of mixed races such as African and white French) live not too far from the Samson plantation where Jane now works in the kitchen. The Creole people are reluctant to mix with people who live outside of their culture. Blacks from the plantation are not welcomed, and if a Creole ever leaves the village, he or she is not allowed to return.

There is an incident in which two young men from Samson decide to crash a party in the Creoles’ territory. Adults warn the two men to stay away, but the men want to mix with the pretty Creole women and will not be deterred. When they arrive, several Creole men greet them and ask who invited them. The two Samson men, Sappho and Claudee, say Jacques invited them; this is a popular French name and they hope someone around there might be named Jacques. But when a man named Jacques is called to identify the men, of course he does not know either of them. So Claudee makes up another name and this time says Jean told them to come to the party. When Jean appears, Claudee tries to convince Jean that he not only knows them but had graciously extended his invitation and encouraged them to come.

When the truth comes out—that neither Claudee nor Sappho knows anyone in the Creole town—the local man chase them on horses across a wide field and run them into a barbed wire fence. The barbed wire tears a gaping wound in Claudee’s leg, and he nearly bleeds to death by the time he and Sappho reach home.

Another story about the Creoles involves a young woman named Mary Agnes LeFabre. Mary Agnes goes to school and later becomes the teacher for the children at Samson. When she left the Creole community, her father warned her that she would not be able to return. She left anyway. Later, her father visits her and begs her to return, but Mary Agnes does not want to leave her students.

It takes Tee Bob, one of the Samson owners’ sons, almost two years to notice Mary Agnes—but once he does, he cannot take his eyes off her. Tee Bob is supposed to be in college in Baton Rouge, but he finds every excuse to come home. His family is always happy to see him, but they cannot figure out why he comes home so often. But Jane knows what was happening because she sees Tee Bob following Mary Agnes everywhere she goes. One day, Jane approaches Mary Agnes to find out what is going on. Mary Agnes assures her that she looks on Tee Bob as a boy. She has no romantic interest in him, though she is well aware that Tee Bob has a serious crush on her.

When Jane hints to others that Tee Bob has fallen in love with the Creole teacher, no one wants to believe it. A white man simply does not fall in love with a Negro. Even though Mary Agnes looks white, a person with even one drop of African blood is considered Negro. Tee Bob is not only white but heir to the Samson plantation.

When Tee Bob confesses to his best friend one night that he has fallen in love with Mary Agnes (even though Tee Bob is engaged to marry another young woman), his friend warns him to come to his senses. Tee Bob’s family would never accept a Creole as a daughter-in-law. When his friend suggests that Tee Bob make Mary Agnes his mistress, Tee Bob punches him. That is the end of their friendship.

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