From The Story of My Life, give a character sketch of Helen's father, Arthur H Keller.

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller reveals many of the occurrences of her childhood and many of the influences in her life. Her father, Arthur H Keller has a huge impact on Helen's development, tirelessly looking for methods and people to help her. Helen's father, a captain in the Confederate Army, has been married before and Helen's mother Kate is much younger than he.

Helen remembers Captain Keller as a loving father who takes great pleasure in pleasing his daughter. He is proud of his garden and grows the best grapes, berries, watermelons and strawberries and Helen is always the first to taste the sweet, ripe grapes. He knows that Helen also loves the garden, "the paradise of my childhood" (ch 2) and relsihes leading her through the garden.

He is also an accomplished hunter and a gracious host to regular guests. As a newspaper editor, Helen, as a blind and deaf girl, is often perplexed by his work as, even when she puts his glasses on, she can still not conclude what he might be doing and only years later can she understand his occupation. He also tells Helen, after she has learnt the manual alphabet, thus setting "my spirit free," anecdotes which Helen recalls at "opportune moments," (ch 2) thus bringing her father much delight. 

A breakthrough for the family, after being "grieved and perplexed (ch 3) comes when Helen's father takes her to see a Dr Chisolm who then refers them to Dr Alexander Graham Bell and he is the first step towards "the door through which I should pass from darkness into light." (ch 3)

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From Helen's autobiography, we can infer a lot of aspects about her father, Arthur Keller. Firstly, that he is very dedicated to his family. Not only did he build the family a home, but Helen describes him as "loving" and "indulgent."

Secondly, he values education highly. Even when Helen becomes deaf and blind, Arthur does everything he can to ensure that she receives the best possible education. This includes taking Helen to Washington to seek the advice of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell on the best schools for deaf and blind children.

Thirdly, Arthur is also very generous. In a letter to her mother, for example, Helen offers her thanks to her father for giving her money so that she can buy gifts for her friends. Arthur, therefore, is very obliging towards and financially supportive of Helen. She also notes that he rarely came home without a guest because he loved to offer his hospitality to others.

Finally, Arthur enjoys the natural world. Helen notes, for example, that he takes great pride in growing fruits, like watermelons, in his garden. He also has a great love for his dog and for going hunting.

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The Story of My Life

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