In The Story of My Life, the arrival of Annie Sullivan coincided with the coming of spring. What symbolic significance does it hold?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The Story of My Life is Helen Keller's autobiographical account of her early life, particularly after she was left blind and deaf following an illness when she was a baby. The story traces Helen's life up to her college days and is intended to be a form of inspiration for others who face great adversity and may otherwise be tempted to give up trying. The arrival of Annie Sullivan who is to be Helen's teacher marks the start of Helen's incredible journey towards effective communication in a world where otherwise every day is "silent (and) aimless" (chapter 2). However, the story is not structured that way and it is coincidental that Annie's arrival corresponds with the beginning of Spring. 

The family is referred to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and he connects the family with The Perkins' Institute for the Blind. Annie Sullivan, herself only partially sighted, and a former pupil of the institute, will becomes Helen's teacher and it is the summer of 1886 when the family receive the news that a teacher will indeed be available for Helen. However, it is only the following March (1887) when Miss Sullivan finally arrives and Helen calls it "the most important day ... in all my life" (chapter 3). 

Spring is the time of anticipation, new life and new opportunities and it is seen as being symbolic of hope and a sense of optimism which this family certainly has. It certainly does present as such for Helen who escapes the "barren places' that otherwise plague her existence. Annie Sullivan herself is the symbol of hope for Helen and her arrival, during any season would have been equally significant. 

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