The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

by Ernest J. Gaines

Start Free Trial

What year and month did Miss Jane Pittman die?

Quick answer:

Miss Jane Pittman, a fictional character in the novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, dies in the year 1962. Though the exact date isn't specified in the book, the film adaptation marks her death on July 19, 1962. Born in 1852, the character lives through significant periods in American history, including slavery, its abolition, and the Civil Rights Movement, dying at the age of 110. The character was inspired by real-life individuals.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Your question isn't really "fair" because it assumes that Miss Jane Pittman is a real, live person.  Nope.  Miss Jane Pittman is a fictional character despite the title of the work, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman which, ironically, is a work of fiction and, as such, a novel.  However, your question about the CHARACTER of Miss Jane Pittman can certainly be answered.

The character of Miss Jane Pittman is a true pioneer in the civil rights movement.  Why?  Not only does she witness the end of slavery, but due to her extreme age when she dies, also get to witness emancipation and reconstruction and the Civil Right's Movement.  Therefore, Miss Jane Pittman is not only a pioneer, but a pioneer who has persevered.

Now to the specifics of your question.  As mentioned above, Miss Jane Pittman's character dies in 1962.  [Please note that it is not really fair to use the film as the exact date (which is 7/19/62) unless you are referring specifically to the film adaptation in your question.  This shows that Miss Jane Pittman's death truly was right in the middle of the quest for civil rights.  Because the book does indicate that the character of Miss Jane Pittman was, in fact, 110 years old when she dies, this shows that due to her death date of 1962, she would have to have been born in 1852:  almost ten years before the Civil War and deep in the heart of slavery in America.

Ain't we all been hurt by slavery?

In conclusion, it is important to say, however, that Gaines who wrote The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman certainly did get inspiration from real-life people.
Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jane Pittman dies in July 1962. The 1974 film adaptation of the book gives July 19, 1962 as the date on which Jane Pittman dies.

Many readers assume that Jane Pittman was a real person since the book is her autobiography. But she is in fact a fictional character. She is 110 years old when she dies in 1962, so she was born in the year 1852. 

Jane Pittman is a slave and she lives long enough to witness the end of slavery in the US, as well as the Civil Rights Movement. 

Her life is told in a series of flash-backs as she describes her memories which are tape recorded. Jane Pittman dies some time after the recordings are completed.

The author of the book was inspired by the lives of several real life people when he developed the fictional character.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Miss Jane Pittman is a literary not historical figure. She is the product of Ernest J. Gaines who wrote the story as a supposed interview with Pittman, who had lived 110 years. According to his novel, Pittman was born sometime around the Civil War and lived until the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1960's. This would place her imaginary death around 1969. However, the book ends in the 1960's.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When was Jane PittmanĀ born and when did she die?

Even though I laughed at daishaisdabest's answer, I have to admit that she is correct:  Miss Jane Pittman was never born.  The most we can tell you is that Miss Jane Pittman is a fictional character, albeit in a work of historical fiction.  So, in that regard, we can project a "kind of" date of birth.  Let's take the facts and determine the exact "date" of her birth. 

We know that the fictional Miss Jane Pittman is 110 years old during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  So, just for fun, let's say that Miss Jane Pittman is 110 years old in 1962. 

Another "fact" about the fictional Miss Jane Pittman is that she was originally a slave. 

Jimmy I have a scar on my back I got when I was a slave. I'll carry it to my grave. You got people out there with this scar on their brains, and they will carry that scar to their grave.

Because slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 (even though the Civil War didn't end until 1865) and because we have determined that Miss Jane Pittman was 110 in 1962, that means that she was 10 years old in 1862, and therefore, 11 years old when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863.

Therefore, it is fairly safe to assume (give or take a year) that, because the fictional Miss Jane Pittman was 110 in 1962 and she was 10 in 1862, Miss Jane Pittman must have been born around 1852.  This would be the perfect timing to allow this fictional character to begin her life as a slave and end her life with the Civil Rights Movement at the elderly age of 110.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When was Jane PittmanĀ born and when did she die?

Jane Pittman is a fictional character who is approximately 110 years old. Her story begins sometime in the 1860's and ends up in the 1960's during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. This work of fiction follows Pittman through the end of Emancipation and outlines the struggles of the freed slaves. Follow the link for more information!

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on