The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

by Ernest J. Gaines

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Ernest Gaines has remarked that modern literature and histories tend to focus on grand events and large cities. Research what he calls the "rural past" and explain how ordinary Americans outside of the city have affected history. Possible time periods to investigate include the American Revolution the building of the American West, and the eras of World War I the Great Depression World War II and the Vietnam War.

Explain how the person who is "recording" Jane's story succeeds in making history more exciting. How does Jane's story make it easier to explain what happened from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement?

Do some research into the period of American history known as Reconstruction. Which efforts to rehabilitate the South failed and why? Why were men like Colonel Eugene I. Dye allowed to return to their plantations?

Jane Pittman tells of her fondness for Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball. Research the history of African American participation in professional and Olympic sports and write a paper connecting milestones on the playing field with milestones in civil rights for African Americans.

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