The novel is written from the
perspective of Jane Pittman and gives her the agency to write her own story and
express her own thoughts and feelings through her own subjectivity. She is the
voice of the story rather than a secondary character that is usually portrayed
by a black female that supports the main character of the story that is usually
a black man that is a leader to his community. At the very beginning when the
author of the novel states that the novel is written from Jane’s perspective
and that it was written in her own words as much as was possible, it symbolizes
the path the story was going to take, where black women are given the voice to
shape their own narrative rather than it be told by someone else. When Mary,
Miss Jane’s agent asked the teacher: “What’s wrong with them books you already
got?” Then the teacher answered: “Miss Jane is not in them.” It reflects the
importance of Miss Jane’s Narrative told from an old black woman rather than a
black male leader. Jane is a symbol of black female empowerment as her
experiences reflect a resilient character that doesn’t give up no matter the obstacles
that she is faced with.  Jane is placed
at the center of the story, her voice being the dominant narrative. The story
takes a form of storytelling, yet the story doesn’t continue with only one
narrative but begins to blur with the narratives of other characters in the
story and in a sense that reflects the diffusion of female subjectivity into a
union of female and male perspectives that becomes a tale of the experiences of
black people as a whole. “I should mention that even though I have used only
Miss Jane’s voice throughout the narrative, there were times when others
carried the story for her. When she was tired, or when she just did not feel like
talking anymore, or when she had forgotten certain things, someone else would
always pick up the narration….” The novel expresses a collective female
experience rather than an individual one. It is a tale of the experiences of
all black female characters and in a sense the novel is not a story but a
collection of stories. It represents the history of slavery and the experiences
of black people. It is a symbol to the experiences of black people as a whole
rather than an individual tale. Thus, in a sense the character of Jane Pittman doesn’t
reflect a submissive woman but rather a collection of archetypes that push her
towards the path of self-actualization. Her character is a multidimensional one
that is complicated as it is intricately woven, that defies the traditional
gender stereotypes of black female subjects. Her character from a young age
reflects a rebellious nature and one that will stand against oppression and
slavery. This can be seen at the beginning of the story when Corporal Brown, a
union soldier, called her Jane, giving her a name other than her slave name,
Ticey, which instilled in her a need for freedom. After that, Jane underwent
abuse and harsh treatment by her master because she refused to be called by her
slave name. This act of disobedience reflects a resistance to slavery. Jane
Pittman’ strength and determination is also reflected in her being barren as it
is a symbol of her self-empowerment. Her being barren frees her from the
objectification that is placed upon a woman’s body in her role as a mother and
sex object. Jane is showcased as strong and independent and does not need a man
in her life. She didn’t marry Joe Pittman, but instead lived with him as his
partner, which reflects her refusal to submit to the restricting roles placed
on women as the “wives of men”. Jane charts her own path independent of a man,
and in a way we can focus on the story through the eyes of Jane rather than a “man’s
wife.” By focusing on the tale through her eyes we can come to see the bigger
picture of the collective experience of black people. This displacement in
narrative is very important as the story takes on a collection of narratives
later on with Jane stepping down from the center of the story and acting as a
bridge to the experiences of other characters. This bridging in a sense is a
form of leadership and reflects the type of leadership black women adopted
during and after slavery, and its equal importance to the leadership black men