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Recall that a plot diagram looks like a mountain. It has a level base (exposition), ascends, (rising aciton) reaches a peak (climax), and descends to the "bottom" of the mountain, (falling action), and reaches a plateau again at the base, (resolution or "denoument").
Briefly, Helen Keller's story begins (the exposition) with the toddler in a world of deafness and blindness. Rising action includes the entry of Annie Sullivan into Helen's life. Sullivan gradually helps Helen's world open up by teaching her to communicate. The climax comes when she is finally able to not only communicate, but do so beautifully.
Falling action includes Helen attending college (with Sullivan in attendance at all classes) and the resolution credits all of those people, including Sulilvan, but many others as well, who helped Helen become a success personally and professionally.
This is a very brief synopsis of the plot; you can find out more specifics by visiting the eNotes page listed below.
The plot is one of the main elements of a story and a plot diagram is a means by which writers and readers can create (writers) or follow (readers) the thread of a story by concentrating on the most significant events or incidents within that story, They are significant in terms of whether they form part of the build up of a story, the highlight or main focus (the climax) of the story or the ultimate winding-down of the story, all of which establish their influence on the plot itself. The plot diagram is like a triangular shape starting with the introduction or exposition followed by the rising action leading up to the climax, which is a major turning-point, and after which the falling action or denouement leads down towards the conclusion or resolution. This allows the writer to create a story which has a good structure and flow, makes sense and sends readers away satisfied. It allows the reader to organize the most relevant aspects of the story in order to understand it better and therefore analyse it and gain an understanding of the writer's intention.
There can be various interpretations of the climax of a story, depending on which events are most significant for the reader.
1. The introduction or exposition of The Story of My Life outlines Helen's illness and struggles with her deafness and blindness.
2. The rising action includes Annie Sullivan's arrival and the huge impact she has on Helen. The day Helen discovers the word "W-A-T-E-R" (ch 4) and from which every other experience and opportunity comes is hugely significant in plot development. The rising action also includes incidents in chapter 6 when Helen grasps abstract concepts like love and "The beautiful truth burst upon my mind." The fact that Helen has the capacity to "learn from life itself" (ch 7) which includes her joys and sorrows continues the build up as does the incident when Helen gets stuck in a tree during a storm. Furthermore, she relishes the opportunity to speak in her "own language" (ch IX) with the children from The Perkins' Institute for the Blind.
3. The climax (although there are many possible points that could be interpreted as the climax) is, for me, in chapter 13 when Helen says, "I uttered my first connected sentence, 'It is warm.'" At this point Helen recognizes that "My soul, conscious of new strength, came out of bondage." This then represents a turning point for Helen.
4. The falling action or denouement follows as Helen must "practise, practise, practise." She learns many more lessons and relates the time that she unwittingly plagiarizes Margaret Canby's story and must live with disappointment and uncertainty especially in her relationship with Mr. Anagnos. Helen learns an "appreciation of the real world" (ch 15) and becomes certain that "blindness and deafness cannot rob him (Man) of this gift from past generations" (ch 22).
5, The resolution or conclusion comes in chapter 23 as Helen refers to the many influences and people who have enriched her life to the point that "they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges."
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