The opening sentences of any written work are among its most important. It is in those sentences that an author has a crucial opportunity to create interest, arouse curiosity, set a tone, and begin to display his or her talent as a writer. The opening sentences of Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life are important in all these ways. In these sentences, Keller uses a number of literary and rhetorical devices, including the following:
- Foreshadowing, as in the way the opening sentence creates suspense by mentioning Keller’s fear of describing her life:
It is with a kind of fear that I begin to write the history of my life.
- Metaphors, as in the reference to “lifting the veil” in the opening paragraph.
- Similes, as in the phrase “like a golden mist” in the opening paragraph.
- Alliteration, or the repetition of similar-sounding consonant sounds, as in the reference to “fact and fancy” in the opening paragraph.
- Balanced or parallel phrasing, as in the just-cited reference to “fact and fancy.”
- Attention to rhythm, as in the phrase “superstitious hesitation,” in which each word has the same number of syllables and the same pattern of accented and unaccented syllables.