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Give a brief sketch of the narrator's family from Helen Keller's The Story of My Life.

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user7248027 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 29, 2013 at 11:59 AM via web

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Give a brief sketch of the narrator's family from Helen Keller's The Story of My Life.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM (Answer #1)

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Helen Keller outlines many of the incidents of her childhood and early adulthood in The Story of My Life. She gives accurate descriptions such as she remembers of the most important and life-changing events of her first twenty-two years.

Helen's father  who is "most loving and indulgent," ( Ch 2) is descended from Casper Keller from Switzerland who settled in America - Maryland. She also has a relative from Zurich who, by coincidence, was the first teacher of the deaf there.  Her grandmother on the Keller side was the grand-daughter of a colonial governor and her father himself, Arthur H Keller, a captain in the Confederate army. Helen's mother is considerable years younger than her husband and is, in fact, his second wife. She is descended from the Adams' and the Everett's. In fact, Helen's middle name is Adams, although her mother's intention was for it to be Everett.

Helen has siblings from her father's first marriage but they receive little mention in The Story of My Life.  Her younger sister, Mildred becomes her firm friend but not before Helen is "returned to my human heritage."(Ch 2) Helen sees Mildred as more of an interference than a person, taking her mother's time and effort. One day Helen tips Mildred out of the crib simply because it is reserved for her beloved doll, Nancy. Fortunately, her mother is on hand to prevent injury and Helen and Mildred grow close and "into each other's hearts."(Ch 2) 

There is no doubt in Helen's mind that she owes her opportunities and independence to her mother's  " loving wisdom... (and) all that was bright and good in my long night." (Ch 2) It is her parents' determination, even when "deeply grieved and perplexed" (ch 3), and their understanding of Helen's desperate need to communicate, that ensure that she will be afforded all possible opportunities.

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