Please explain how Helen Keller became familiar with abstract ideas like love, in The Story of My Life?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Helen Keller wrote The Story of My Life because she knew how privileged she was to have had so many opportunities and wanted to share her story as a means to inspire others so that they, too, can make the most of any possibilities. 

For Helen, "the most important day I remember in all my life"(ch 4) comes when Annie Sullivan arrives. Education is key in everything Helen does to the point that she learns "from life itself"(ch 7) and Miss Sullivan's informal methods and ability to teach Helen in any circumstances mean that she is able to grasp many concepts. It takes quite some effort to reveal the meaning of words and "the mystery of language" and Helen struggles to make the connection but once she experiences her "soul's sudden awakening" (ch 5) and makes the connection between water and "the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand" (ch 4), nothing can stop her. 

Abstract ideas require real patience on the part of Miss Sullivan as she strives to make Helen understand. She repeats many processes but still Helen struggles to understand such a concept as love. It is during an exercise, threading beads, when Miss Sullivan indicates to Helen that she must "think" (ch 6) that Helen realises that abstract ideas exist and shortly afterwards "the beautiful truth burst upon my mind" (ch 6) and "love" and its meaning become a reality for Helen. 


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