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The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller

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Character Sketch Of Bishop Brooks

Describe Bishop Brooks in The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.

Bishop Brooks is a lifelong friend and teacher to Helen Keller. He admires Helen and helps her to understand religion. Bishop Brooks encourages her to read the Bible and reflect on spiritual matters, but he never tells her what to believe. Helen describes him as a man of "genius" who teaches a "creed of love."

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Bishop Brooks is not only a friend of Helen Keller; she is also a role model for him. He had immense influence on her, especially on her worldview and beliefs about religion and God. The bishop helped her understand religion and clear her doubts and confusions about it. He encouraged her, even after his death, to read the Bible and to continue to think about these issues. 

We can say that the bishop helped shape Helen as a person. He was a teacher who helped direct her thinking and helped her understand the universal truths about religion as he understood and lived them.

These words sum up what Bishop Brooks meant to Helen:

"...he gave me a real sense of joy in life...."

"Bishop Brooks taught me no special creed or dogma; but he impressed upon my mind two great ideas--the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and made me feel that these truths underlie all creeds and forms of worship."

"I have found no creed or system more soul-satisfying than Bishop Brooks's creed of love."

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Helen Keller has inspired many with her book, The Story of My Life, which traces her life up to the age of only 22 years of age but which gives readers such insight into her struggles and ample motivation to always strive for the best, despite times when their lives may seem "silent, aimless, dayless," such as Helen herself admits of her own life. In this book, Helen Keller does not shy away from the unpleasantness of events as she could so easily have done, romanticizing her life and her efforts. Instead, as her intention was to inspire others to overcome their own difficulties, she includes events that could have changed her life and her direction and the people who ensured that she succeeded. Helen credits those who influenced her life, some famous and others that make her feel that "all is well." Bishop Brooks is one of these people.

It is a huge struggle for Helen to ensure she meets and exceeds expectations and Bishop Brooks is someone who is steadfast in his belief in and acceptance of Helen. In Helen, a girl so vastly different from himself in beliefs and age, he recognizes an indomitable spirit and he sees that, although Helen is suffering, she is able to teach others how to humble themselves and rise above challenges which seem insurmountable. He understands that, unwittingly, she reveals something that he has been trying to teach his congregation for years: that goodness and hope do exist in the darkest and most unlikely of places. The famous hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem was written by Bishop Brooks; the second verse, although never attributed to his friendship with Helen, speaks of "How silently, how silently, The Wondrous gift is given..." He was always astounded by Helen's ability to reach others without really saying a word. 

The fact that Bishop Brooks never judges Helen and trusts her and never questions her relationship...

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with God which, by her own admittance, is not a traditional one but is somewhat unresolved, ensures that Helen and Bishop Brooks remain lifelong friends. He teaches Helen, even from a young age, that "wrong shall not triumph." Even after he dies, Helen knows that there is "no creed or system more soul-satisfying than Bishop Brooks's creed of love." 

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In The Story of My Life, there are many influential people that affect Helen Keller. She values and recognizes their contribution to her development. One such person is Bishop Brooks whom Helen describes as amongst "men of genius."(ch 23) The Bible has never interested Helen, to the point she actually finds it "devoid of interest" at first. As always, Helen perseveres and comes to an appreciation although she continues to dislike the "barbarous" events recalled there.  Bishop Brook never tries to influence Helen's religious choices, rather guiding her towards "one universal religion." (ch 23)

Ever since she was a child, Helen has delighted in Bishop Brooks' presence and has always been content after spending time with him. He lives by his example, does not judge others and shows Helen that, no matter what, "wrong shall not triumph." His "creed of love" is fulfilling for Helen and, even after his death, he continues to have a positive effect on her. 

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