The Story of my Life by Hellen Kelleer

The Story of my Life by Hellen Kelleer

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The potency and inspiration of the less-than fortunate never ceases to amaze me. Against physical conditions that would enslave even the strongest of women, Helen Keller challenged her multiple disabilities and became an educated young women in spite of them. Blind and deaf at two, Helen Keller''s story of bravery and fortitude and her remarkable relationship with her beloved teacher Ann Sullivan, is a delicate lesson in the ability of the extraordinary few to triumph over adversity.

As a young girl, Keller was powerless to express herself. Until at the age of 7, an event happened that she declares, "the most important day I remember in all my life." The event she describes is the day Anne Sullivan became her teacher. In one passage, Keller writes of the day "Teacher" led her to a stream and repeatedly spelled out the letters w-a-t-e-r on one of her hands while pouring water over the other. I am reminded in this particular section of the narrative about the great difficulties my profoundly deaf sister faced in learning not only the sign and label of an object, but the many different concepts it included as well. These precious edifications about the differences in a “mug” and “water” were only some of what would be many opportunities for Helen to develop senses and feelings that I believe she portrays helped her to begin to live.

These lessons were taught to Helen at every available opportunity. During walks in nature, in every story Ms. Sullivan lovingly spelled, every occasion to enrich Helens mind was seized. Each concept contributed to wealth of information and insight she possessed. Ms. Keller’s deftly woven tales of discovering a flower bloom, her rich interpretations of experiencing new literature, or her vivid use of details to describe the natural wonders of the world that she felt so connected too, are all nothing short of brilliant. Even more astonishing is that these descriptions pour through the typewriter of a woman whose only vision was through her fingertips.

Clearly The Story of My Life is one of victory over many obstacles. I was able to formulate a time line using the textbook and had Helen been born fifty years earlier then she was, she wouldn’t have benefited from the revolutionary techniques that taught her reading (several languages), writing, and eventually to speak. The Braille Literary code, the same code Helen so rigorously manipulated in her literary explorations, was only fully perfected in 1834.

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Perkins School for the Blind, erected in 1832, was highly acclaimed for its accomplishment in Helen Keller’s instance specifically. It was one of the first of such institutions in the United States. Some of the earliest schools modeled their educational programs after public schools. But as the textbook points out in both the visually and hearing disabled chapters, education of the blind or deaf is highly specialized to their specific needs.

In 1890 Keller learned to speak after only one month of study. Ten years later, she was able to enter Radcliffe College, from which she graduated with honors in 1904. A remarkable deed considering that only twenty-four years prior to her graduation she had absolutely no outlet for communication.

I feel it my duty to point out that without “a” Anne Sullivan in Helen’s life many of her accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible. Only a loving, caring soul, such as Anne Sullivan could have fostered the astounding growth and perseverance in her finest pupil. The valuable lesson to be gained in every word of Helen Keller’s story is its moral of love, patience, and tolerance. Because in the end, it is this blind and deaf woman, or the special needs child who have overcome such misfortune, that succeed where others fail at sharpening our eyes and ears to the beauty of the world.

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