How did Helen like Niagara falls? Why did people feel surprised at her response?

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When Helen Keller visits Niagara Falls she senses the power of this mammoth body of water that crashes over rock and earth. She writes that it is "difficult to describe my emotions." (Chapter 15)

In the previous chapter, Helen reflects upon the story she had written earlier that exhibited plagiarism...

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When Helen Keller visits Niagara Falls she senses the power of this mammoth body of water that crashes over rock and earth. She writes that it is "difficult to describe my emotions." (Chapter 15)

In the previous chapter, Helen reflects upon the story she had written earlier that exhibited plagiarism because "what I read becomes the very substance and texture of my mind"; she did not realize that she had incorporated from a story the beautiful ideas she had so enjoyed into her own thinking. While this ability to store ideas and feelings has caused her embarrassment and resulted in the accusation of plagiarism, it also has worked positively as she is able to store descriptions and emotions that she has read in her memory.

As an advantage, with this banked memory, Helen can call upon these vicarious experiences from novels and other narratives and apply them to similar occurrences in her life. This ability of transference of sensitivities allows Helen, therefore, to experience beyond the senses of sight and hearing. This is why she is so thrilled by Niagara Falls: the vibrations of the power of the water stir memories of things she has "seen" and "heard" in her beloved books.

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Helen visited Niagara Falls in 1893.  Because Helen could not see or hear, she relied on her other senses to experience the majesty of the powerful falls.  Helen described that she "felt the air vibrate and the earth tremble."  She explained that people sometimes asked her how she could experience beauty without being able to see or hear.  She went on to say that she could not define how she was able to experience beauty.  People seemed unable to understand how Helen could connect with nature because she did not have two of her senses.  

In that same year, Helen and Miss Sullivan visited the World's Fair.  Helen connected her experiences at Niagara Falls by describing that through touch, she was able to experience the wonders of the Fair. Helen was given special permission to experience the exhibits through touch.  Normally, no one was permitted to touch these objects.  Helen "took in the glories of the Fair with [her] fingers."

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