42 pages 1 hour read

Trevor R. Getz, Illustr. Liz Clarke

Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History

Nonfiction | Graphic Novel/Book | YA | Published in 2011

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Part 4, Chapters 17-19

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “Reading Guide”

Part 4, Chapter 17 Summary: “Whose Story Is This?”

Historians are not only tasked with synthesizing historical information from primary and secondary sources, but interpreting these sources to form a coherent picture of the past. No two historians will interpret history the exact same way, but all historians have a duty to responsibly relay history and acknowledge how their interpretations (which can never be truly objective) influence the way they tell stories. To deconstruct these ideas, the authors start by examining the story behind Abina and the Important Men.

This examination begins at Level 1, the simplest level of a metaphorical staircase. Abina is at the core of the story (or the bottom of the stairs), but there are many people (or steps) between the authors’ rendition of Abina’s story and Abina’s truth—these steps including various authors, illustrators, and the clerk who recorded the transcript. The authors of the novel describe their process of adding words not directly from the court transcript and artistically rendering the story to represent themes they deemed appropriate based on the historical record (but may not be completely accurate). The court transcript was recorded by an official clerk. During Abina’s case, the clerk was switched to another clerk who kept far more detailed notes than the original, and historians think one of them was Judge Melton himself.