When and how did Helen realize that she was different from others in The Story of My Life?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Helen realized she was different from other people before she was seven years old because others talked with their mouths instead of signing.

Helen says she does not know exactly how old she was when she first realized that other people used words to talk instead of sign language.

I do not remember when I first realized that I was different from other people; but I knew it before my teacher came to me. I had noticed that my mother and my friends did not use signs as I did when they wanted anything done, but talked with their mouths. (Ch. 2)

Ann Sullivan came just before Helen turned seven years old, so this means that Helen realized she was different before she was seven years old.  She communicated without words because an illness had left her blind and deaf.  She would shake her head or nod, or pull someone by the hand to get the person to come with her.  She knew quite a bit about what was going on, despite being unable to see or hear, due to her intelligence.

It was upsetting to Helen that she could not understand what people were saying.  Her family memories had made various stopgap efforts to communicate with her, but they were getting less and less adequate as she aged, and Helen was strong-willed.

I was strong, active, indifferent to consequences. I knew my own mind well enough and always had my own way, even if I had to fight tooth and nail for it. (Ch. 2)

As Helen gets older, she says “the desire to express myself grew” (Ch. 3).  She does not have enough signs.  She lives too far from the school for the blind and deaf.  Her parents decide to hire her a teacher, and they find Anne Sullivan.  She will allow Helen to have a voice, and unlike the meaning of language.

Communication is the key to our humanity.  It is a fundamental desire of human nature.  Helen was young, but she had a desire to be heard, and an innate intelligence and strong will.  It was this willpower that made her into the strong woman she would become.  She was different from other people, and could not talk with her voice or see with her eyes like everyone else could, but she found a different way to see the world and make herself heard.  Helen Keller always knew she would never give up.

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