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The Story of My Life by Helen Keller explores many of Helen's relationships throughout the first twenty two years of her life and the influence they have on her. Ann Sullivan will "set my spirit free." (Ch 1) Alexander Graham Bell will open " the door through which I should pass from darkness into light"(ch 3) and her parents, whilst "grieved and perplexed"(ch 3), take all steps possible to ensure that Helen receives the best help possible to enable her to strive towards her "soul's sudden awakening."(Ch 5)
Helen has a younger sister Mildred and, at first, Helen feels only resentment towards her as Mildred takes her mother's time and attention which Helen has cherished up to this point. Helen has no concept of "the tender affections that grow out of endearing words" (ch 2) and, on one occasion, she finds that Mildred has been placed in a crib previously reserved for Helen's doll Nancy. Without any consideration, Helen tips Mildred out of the crib and only her mother's intervention prevents a catastrophe.
This event marks a turning point for Helen in her human relationships as she comes to appreciate her "human heritage" whereafter Helen and Mildred become firm friends even though Mildred does not yet understand Helen's main form of communication - her "finger language" - "nor I her childish prattle."
It is this event that finally urges her parents to find a way to help Helen. Thus, Helen and Mildred's upbringing is quite different and Helen develops within the family but often taking trips - to the Perkins Institute for the Blind and to Boston, and so on, to ensure she can really achieve her potential. Family holidays are however important to Helen and to Mildred and they enjoy each others' company at Fern Quarry.
One particular event Helen recalls is a walk that Helen, Ann Sullivan and Mildred take and get very lost but Mildred luckily spots an easy way back. Helen is particularly happy when she learns to speak because Mildred will be able to understand her and it is this thought that sustains her and is "stronger than all obstacles" as her work is "practice, practice, practice." (ch 13)
It is very interesting to note that Helen Keller was obviously allowed to develop as an individual without losing that closeness to her family and especially Mildred (and of course she had a special bond with Annie Sullivan) that sustained her through all the difficult times she experienced growing up.
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