I grew up in America, in south Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. I was taught American history, Texas history and the history of the South, mainly by Dominican nuns, though I think the text books were the same texts used in all Texas schools.
I remember thinking at an early age that being an American was an accident of birth. And, growing up in the 40's and 50's, I took American military and economic power for granted. I took American culture for granted. I think I was out of highschool before I began to deviate. The effect of what I read.
I can't think of a person who jogged me, moved me away from the mainstream or in any way enlightened me. Just books.
Now, I'm writing about an intellect and spirit that develops in a world of limitless information but few people -- almost in a vacuum -- and I'm challenged to answer simple questions like how will she decide what's right and wrong? Will she think of herself as an American? How will she decide what to do with her life? How will she interpret the history of the human race? Will she simply accept the information and instructions she's given like some inanimate machine? How and what do people learn who are locked away in basements when they're growing up? What would a person be like who lived their first 20 years in the New York Public Library, able to read, but never meeting another soul?
What, I wonder, in all that reading, would be the most significant thing he or she read? What, to her, would be the most significant event in human history? The worst thing that ever happened? The best? What would her universe coalesce around?