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The Story of My Life is Helen Keller's autobiographical account of her early years, including her acceptance into Radcliffe College, an amazing achievement considering that she was a woman at the turn of the twentieth century and quite seriously disabled.
It seems that any discussion on the main "characters" should be on Helen herself and Ann Sullivan, her tutor, mentor, friend and companion over many years; in fact, the very person " who was to set my spirit free." Helen's independence was due to Ann's participation in everything Helen did. Even in college, Ann would "spell" the contents of the lectures into Helen's hands.
Helen had been left blind and deaf at the age of only nineteen months after a bout of Scarlet Fever which doctors believed would take her life. Her parents, ecstatic that their daughter had survived were to learn that she had been left in "silence and darkness." Their commendable efforts to ensure a future for their daughter led to the opportune arrival of Ann Sullivan.
Ann Sullivan was herself visually impaired and came from The Perkins' Institute for the Blind to teach Helen how to communicate - if it was even possible. Her ability to structure her teaching around Helen's independent spirit allowed for the successful transfer of skills that gave Helen access to a"normal" world. Helen's outbursts did not even phase Ann Sullivan who understood the frustrations and simply strove to help Helen more. Despite her youth, she was only twenty years old when she went to the Keller's home, she knew what Helen needed and was able to instill a discipline and a thirst for knowledge that pushed Helen to her limits.
Helen Keller devoted her adult life to helping others with physical impairments such as her own and she championed social reform and the rights of women, children and the disabled. With Ann Sullivan at her side to ensure that her message was always delivered, she was able to motivate people from all walks of life and provide hope where there had been helplessness.
Ironically, Helen Keller led a far more fulfilling life than many people with the "gift" of sight and she was saddened by those who did not take advantage. Her life, and her autobiography The Story of My Life, transport the reader and prove that nothing is impossible as "barriers... could in time be swept away."
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