Helen Keller is an effective ambassador for disabled persons worldwide. Write a character sketch of Helen in the light of the above statement as it relates to The Story of My Life.

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen Keller is a shining example of triumph over adversity for everyone. In The Story of My Life, she reveals her struggles and her many frustrations which resulted from her being left blind and deaf after an illness when she was just a baby. However, even such short exposure to the sense of sight gives her "glimpses of broad, green fields, a luminous sky, trees and flowers which the darkness that followed could not wholly blot out."(Ch 1)  

In consideration of the statement that Helen is an effective ambassador for disabled persons worldwide, I think that her efforts to obtain entry into the esteemed Radcliffe College, would render the best character sketch. Having "set my spirit free" when Annie Sullivan begins teaching Helen, she never stops learning and "learns from life itself." (Ch 7) Helen is so determined that "everything that could hum, or buzz, or sing, or bloom had a part in my education." (Ch 7)

Once Helen is told of another deaf girl who can speak, there is no stopping her and she is "on fire with eagerness" and recognizes the potential of " winged words that need no interpretation"(Ch 13) although she does understand her own limitations as her words are not clearly sounded.

In 1896, Helen attends The Cambridge School for young Ladies but has much greater sights and "Some day I shall go to college."(Ch 18) She writes her exams for entrance to Radcliffe which are harrowing and difficult and the only real compromise made for her is a typewriter and having the papers (some) read to her. However, even though she has to sit for five hours at a time, upon hearing that she has passed her German "satisfactorily" she is hugely encouraged and "I sped on to the end of the ordeal with a light heart and a steady hand."  

During her preparations, the school believes she is working too hard and there is a disagreement over how many years Helen should take to be ready for Radcliffe. Such is Helen's determination that, when Mr Gilman from The Cambridge School suggests three rather than two years, Helen is removed from the school as she does "not like his plan, for I wished to enter college with my class."

This is surely inspirational for any disabled person and the title of "ambassador" is most certainly applicable to Helen Keller.

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The Story of My Life

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