In The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, what explains Helen's love for nature?

Although Helen's love for nature should be understood as a lifelong emotional relationship, her initial attraction to nature stemmed from the fact that within her garden, Helen was not impaired by her disabilities. 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, nature is fascinating, comforting and terrifying for Helen. When she is very young, Helen finds that the garden brings her relief from her frustrations; it is "the paradise of my childhood" (chapter 1). She recognizes sections of the garden by the smells and also the texture of the leaves and she is particularly in awe of the roses. The garden is her refuge because she can rely on her other senses (not sight and hearing) and, even if only momentarily, she is not restricted by her disabilities.

In chapter 5, after Annie Sullivan arrives and begins teaching Helen, she encourages Helen's love of the outdoors and helps her make the connection between her world and the world around her by making Helen feel that "birds and flowers and I were happy peers." Helen even remembers that her first lessons with Annie are "in the beneficence of nature." Helen notes that Annie does not concentrate on academic subjects at first but rather on "beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of my baby sister's hand." However, Helen also learns about the unpredictability of nature and remembers how whilst climbing a tree "a nameless fear clutched at my heart." However, she sees it as another learning opportunity, and although she takes a long time to get over her fear, she does do so and feels "like a fairy on a rosy cloud."

Helen's education revolves around nature and she recognizes that "everything that could hum, or buzz, or sing, or bloom had a part" (chapter 6). Annie uses clay to teach Helen Geography and people send her collectibles which allow Helen to make associations and "learn from life itself." Helen recognizes that this love of nature stems from Annie's "genius" and continues to relish it. When out in the snow, she even suggests that the light is so bright that "it penetrated the darkness that veils my eyes" (ch 12). She finds the wind "exhilarating" while tobogganing and never misses an opportunity. She is inspired by her surroundings and this contributes to her positive frame of mind. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial