How would you describe Helen Keller as a child based on the first four chapters of her autobiography, The Story of My Life?

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carolynosborne eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen Keller recounts the drastic change brought on by her epiphany about language in The Story of My Life, and this change takes place in Chapter 4. There are, however, some characteristics Helen possessed even before she could communicate that did not change after the incident at the well. Her new-found ability did change her life circumstances, but not her essential personality.

The first characteristic of her personality is intelligence. From the beginning, Helen Keller was smart. For example, despite being blind and deaf, she figured out how to lock Annie Sullivan's door from the outside, how to hide the key from others, and then how to dispose of it in the well. This means she had to be aware of others' perspectives even though she had less sensory information to help her discover this than most children. 

A second characteristic is curiosity. The minute a stranger walks into her life, she doesn't hide herself away shyly. Instead, she explores who this stranger is and the kinds of things she has with her. She smells the new smells of a different human being and examines by touch Sullivan's possessions. 

A third characteristic is persistence. When Annie Sullivan tries to correct her breakfast manners, Helen pitches a fit that lasts all morning. 

All of these characteristics, when tamed by the new understanding of language she received at the well, served her well across her life. Curiosity and intelligence led her to do what few sighted/hearing women did, and that was to go to college. Persistence helped her to stay committed to getting her education even when doing so was extremely difficult. 

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The Story of My Life

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