In The Story of My Life, how did Helen feel before and after Miss Sullivan's entry into her dark world ?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Story of My Life discusses Helen Keller's life up to the age of twenty two. Helen is struck down by a debilitating illness at the age of nineteen months which closed her "eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a new-born baby." (Ch 1). Helen is, however, an inquisitive child and finds what little independence she can in the garden; "the paradise of my childhood."  (Ch 1)

Helen's life before Annie Sullivan arrives to "set my spirit free" (ch 1) is full of frustrations, causing her to have outbursts "daily, sometimes hourly." (Ch 3)She does form a friendship with Martha Washington and is able to experience baking, milking cows and other childhood pursuits, somehow easing her "silent, dayless life." (Ch 2) Her parents also support her but it is only upon Miss Sullivan's arrival which Helen recalls as " The most important day I remember in all my life" (ch 4), that Helen can begin to learn to communicate, starting with the manual alphabet. 

The language that Helen Keller uses throughout The Story of My Life is quite poetic and expresses her joy at "seeing" as she learns "from life itself."(Ch 7) Once Helen understands the connection between words and communication, her life changes for ever and the word "W-A-T-E-R.....the wonderful cool something" (ch 4) allows her to proceed with her education in earnest. She goes on to find great success and is admitted to Radcliffe College, a feat for even a sighted, speaking person, at the turn of the twentieth century.  

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The Story of My Life

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