Why is a personal story—Valentino’s story—of the violence and oppression in Sudan more valuable than any purely historical account could be? What emotions does Valentino’s story arouse that...

Why is a personal story—Valentino’s story—of the violence and oppression in Sudan more valuable than any purely historical account could be? What emotions does Valentino’s story arouse that a more objective treatment could not?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The presumption is that a personal story is more valuable than a purely historical account.  This could be debated on its own merits.  If one were to accept that a personal story such as Valentino's is more valuable than any purely historical account, it would be rooted in the idea that personal accounts help to expand moral and ethical imagination.  When Valentino suggests that "This book is a soulful account of my life,” it helps to forge a personal connection with the reader.  The reader is able to fully understand the narrative of violence and oppression in the Sudan because of being able to forge a personal connection through Valentino's story.  This ability to personally connect with historical reality is one reason that personalized narratives can prove to be more effective than dispassionate accounts.

When a personal face is attached to the historical conditions that govern being in the world, greater connections can be made.  The fact that Valentino's account contains "no charts" helps to enhance this.  Personalized stories can be seen as being more valuable as a means of understanding history because of their ability to connect with others on a personal level.  This results in an expansion of moral and ethical imagination, with a sense of empathy that might not exist in a purely historical account.

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