How was the summer of 1887 special for Helen?

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The summer of 1887 was when Helen first learned to communicate using the manual alphabet.  Helen became desperate to learn all about her surroundings.  She was thrilled to be able to communicate, and she called this time her "soul's sudden awakening" (Chapter V).  Helen no longer lived in a world of isolation.  Though she still could not see or hear, she experienced life in a new and exciting way.

Helen had already loved being out in nature before Miss Sullivan came.  She had used her senses of touch and smell to enjoy the flowers, leaves, and trees.  When Miss Sullivan was able to communicate with Helen, she told her young student all about animals, the sun, and the rain.  Before Helen learned academic subjects, her teacher "taught [her] to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of [her] baby sister's hand."  Helen developed a new appreciation for everything around her with Miss Sullivan's help.

Helen was eager to learn.  For the first time in her life, Helen felt connected with the world around her.  She described this in her autobiography, The Story of My Life:

I did nothing but explore with my hands and learn the name of every object that I touched; and the more I handled things and learned their names and uses, the more joyous and confident grew my sense of kinship with the rest of the world.

 

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