Historical Comprehension: Reading Narratives Imaginatively
People’s past experiences, their family backgrounds, their profession, and other personal factors influence how they experience historic events. Thus, understanding who a person is can be useful in reading that person’s account of a historic event.
Read the personal narrative by Kathleen Clark, who was visiting in New York at the time of the attack on the World Trade Center. First read the narrative to learn about Clark as a person. What can you discern about where she lives, her profession, her family, her interests and beliefs, and previous experiences? Write a brief profile of Clark that highlights important information you have gleaned about her life and background.
Reread Clark’s narrative. Look for evidence that her background and experiences affected her reaction to the terrorist attacks. Give three examples of ways in which Clark’s experiences and background might have affected her response to the events of September 11.
Find at least one additional narrative or interview in which there is evidence of how an individual’s response to the events of September 11 was shaped by his or/ her background and experience. Three possibilities are the narrative by Niloofar Mina and the interviews with Jessie Willie Smart, Sr. and Amy Amadasu but many other accounts also provide such evidence. Based on the evidence you have gathered, make a general statement about how an individual’s background and experiences influence their response to historic events.