Gabriel Williamson, a 32-year-old successful and outwardly happy white Wall Street lawyer, hides his past behind a mythical personal history.
Every night, he dreams of a place called Mitchellville, a town in South Carolina that has suffered a horrible wrong that Gabriel, in his dream,
attempts to right. Now up for partner in his law firm, Gabriel is asked to undergo a routine psychiatric evaluation, during which he describes
his dream about Mitchellville's history and in doing so reveals his own.
An underlying theme of Mitchellville is the myth of history it is the lie that we agree upon. Yet, ultimately, we never escape our true history.
It is recorded in our music, our literature, our photographs. In short, our art.
Thus, our collective history is revealed in the photographs of the strong proud faces of landowners in the warehouse, the devastating photograph
of the crying girl that Gabriel's boss Michael gives Gabriel's wife, and in Marian Anderson's beautiful rendition of Ava Maria. It is everywhere,
following us around even if we do not see it, much like the man in Gabriel's dream.
A related point is that history is collective, not owned by a particular individual or group. Thus, when tragedy strikes Gabriel's family, he is taken
in by an African-American family in his neighborhood. When he dreams, it is of the history of Mitchellville, not his own. And in the dream, when
he talks to his true self, it is in the form of his teacher Ken.