In The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, how does Helen come to understand the importance of learning?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen Keller's path to acceptance,understanding and learning as set out in her autobiography, The Story of My Life, is difficult and, although many people admire her, they cannot begin to contemplate the effort involved in "lifting the veil that clings about my childhood like a golden mist."(Ch 1) Helen recalls many of the positive events that shape her understanding and enhance her learning and although, perhaps fortunately for Helen, she has forgotten some of the events "of vital importance in my early the excitement of great discoveries" (Ch1) she does recognize how they contribute to the whole childhood learning curve.

Even without realizing it, Helen contributes to her learning by being independent and inquisitive, finding her way around the garden and recognizing her location based on the the touch and smell of the flowers around her. It is Helen's first realization that life is not necessarily "silence and darkness," having forgotten "that it had ever been different,"(Ch 1) that helps Helen, as young as she is see the benefits of learning as Ann Sullivan "set my spirit free."

Helen becomes more and more frustrated with her inability to communicate effectively and her temper tantrums increase and "these outbursts occurred daily, sometimes hourly."(Ch 3). Once Ann Sullivan reveals "the immeasurable contrasts between the two lives which it connects" Helen seeks new experiences daily.  The word "W-A-T-E-R" becomes "That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! (Ch 4)