Study Guide

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Part 1, Chapter 1

By Seth Grahame-Smith

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Part 1, Chapter 1

Exceptional Child

  • Here we are folks, at the beginning of Part 1 (titled "Boy") of Honest Abe's not-so-honest life.
  • In the first scene, young Lincoln shoots a turkey, but the whole thing is so messy and gross that he decides never to hunt again. 
  • This might fall under the category of irony since the book title includes the word "hunter." 
  • Then we get our favorite type of interlude, the historical interlude: in 1809, when Lincoln was born, America was still a young country, only barely past the Revolutionary War.
  • American cities were growing fast, becoming more dangerous and crime-ridden. (This is well before C.S.I. cleaned up the mean streets of… Vegas.)
  • Plus, not to stereotype or anything, but the general behavior is just a lot less classy since the Brits left. Instead of duels, we get lots of random murders. (Although we learn here that the death of a slave is not murder since slaves aren't considered people [16].)
  • There's also a rise in bloodless murder victims, which sounds a little hinky.
  • It's time for our second favorite kind of interlude, a family historical interlude. We learn about Abe's dad Thomas and his mom Nancy Hanks (no relation to Tom).
  • Thomas is a carpenter and seems lazy to Abe. But maybe it's just Post-Traumatic Stress after seeing his dad (also named Abraham) murdered by Shawnee natives when he was 8.
  • In contrast to the unschooled Thomas, Nancy knows how to read. That meant that when Abe was young, he got to listen to his momma read all kinds of stories. (Studies show that children who are read to grow up to kill more vampires.)
  • In 1811, since he doesn't have a title showing he owns the land, Thomas moves the family from Sinking Springs Farm (in Kentucky) to Knob Creek Farm (also in Kentucky), which has the benefit of being on the Old Cumberland Trail (a.k.a. the Louisville-Nashville Turnpike). So young Abe gets to see and meet lots of travelers, including slaves.
  • People traveling along the Trail stop and stay with the Lincolns and tell stories, including stories about vampires.
  • In 1816, the Lincoln family moves to Little Pigeon Creek, Indiana, partly because Indiana has no slaves and Thomas Lincoln is an abolitionist for religious reasons.
  • Abe gets a little schooling, but when it comes to pitching in, he mostly just chops wood, after he refuses to hunt after the turkey incident. 
  • By 1818, they have a nicer place and Nancy's great aunt and great uncle (Tom and Elizabeth Sparrow) have come out to live and work on the farm. As Abe notes in his journal, "Things were good" (49)—which means that something bad is about to happen.
  • In September 1818, Abe wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to the outhouse just to relax. (It was hard to find privacy back in those days.) Hidden in the outhouse, Abe sees his dad arguing with someone.
  • Abe hears the stranger say "I'll take it in other ways" (57). Nothing ominous about that sentence, right?
  • And then Tom and Elizabeth Sparrow die of some strange sickness, which is really disappointing to Abe because they don't die dramatically, like people do in books. What's all this wasting away about?
  • And then Abe's mom Nancy Hanks Lincoln starts to get sick and die, too. She's only 34. But right before she dies, she dramatically tells Abe to live. (So, at least someone dies dramatically.)
  • Her death crushes Abe, since she was his major source of love and reading material.
  • Although he is only nine (ish), Abe wants to run away from his cold dad, but the outdoors is even colder. 
  • Also, there are scary screams in the forest, so Abe decides to stick it out on the homestead.

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