Helen's intelligence and talent serve her well as revealed in The Story of My Life. In what ways do Helen's intelligence and talent cause her frustration and rage?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen Keller recounts the first twenty-two years of her life in The Story of My Life. She intends for the autobiographical book to serve as an inspiration to others and therefore, although often described as poetic and told purely from her perspective, it is honest and includes many of those instances of which Helen is not proud but all of which contribute to her development and ability to motivate others.

Just as Helen's intelligence and talent allow her to gain an understanding of her surroundings and to thrive, they also mean that she is more easily frustrated. She has an awareness that she cannot communicate effectively but no amount of intelligence and hard work seem to make any difference. In chapter 2, Helen talks about when she is a small child and takes refuge in the garden because she cannot express herself. She also refers to her awareness that her mother and her mother's friends do not use signs like she has to. She "moved my lips and gesticulated frantically without result" and this is extremely frustrating for her. On another occasion, Helen refers to her father's "secret" and she mimics his actions as he reads a newspaper, "even wearing his spectacles, thinking they might help solve the mystery" but it only adds to her confusion. It is the fact that she knows that she is "different" which contributes to her bouts of rage as she cannot accept it. 

In chapter 3, Helen talks about how "inadequate" her forms of communication are to the point of having temper tantrums "sometimes hourly." This is one of the motivations that drive her parents to seek help and Annie Sullivan's arrival and ability to connect with Helen contribute to her soul's "sudden awakening" (chapter 5). Helen loves all her opportunities to learn and it is her natural ability which allows her to "learn from life itself" (ch 7). However, she admits that arithmetic is something she is not able to master to her own satisfaction as she sets her expectations high- another reason why her intelligence causes her frustrations.  

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The Story of My Life

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