As reflected in her book The Story of My Life, discuss how rather than lamenting her deprivation, Helen Keller sets an example to the world by being contented. 

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In her book The Story of My Life, Helen Keller makes it clear from the beginning that her intention is to highlight those instances in her life that help to shape her character and strengthen her resolve and which have given her the ability to help others overcome obstacles in their lives that may seem insurmountable.

Even though life is difficult and confusing, Helen in chapter II recalls that "the darkness ...could not wholly blot out" the beauty she had experienced before her illness. She remembers trying to mimic others but not achieving the desired effect and she talks about how her temper tantrums happen regularly as her ability to communicate is so seriously hampered. However, Helen always finds ways to manage her temper as the garden is so calming for Helen and holds many blessings and fond memories. 

Helen speaks in poetic language in order to show her contentment and she considers the day that Annie Sullivan arrived as "the most important day I remember in all my life" (ch IV). Even though Helen suffered many humiliations before and after Annie's arrival, she relishes her memory of the word "W-A-T-E-R" because "that living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!" (ch VI) It is obvious to the reader that, as she says herself, "I learnt from life itself" (ch VII). 

When Helen visits the Perkins' Institute in chapter IX, she feels the "joy to talk with other children in my own language," relishing every moment rather than lamenting their collective situation. It is at this point that Helen reaches her own realization that these children are "so happy and contented that I lost all sense of pain in the pleasure of their companionship." 

Helen takes every experience as an opportunity, even the unpleasant ones, and "the barren places between my mind and the minds of others blossomed" (ch XI) as she faces her fears and lets nothing stop her.  She admits that she feels discouraged and finds it exhausting to communicate, but the thought that her family will be so proud of her achievement motivates her to persevere. Even the unfortunate incident of the Frost King is considered for its potential to help Helen be a well-rounded person. 

In chapter XVII, Helen talks about her "ambition to speak like other people," and even though she cannot achieve this completely, she focuses on what she can learn from her situation and her unique abilities. Helen recognizes Annie's contribution because Annie "turns drudgery into pleasure," as Helen says in chapter XVIII. Helen never underestimates her difficulties but she always accepts them as part of her life, and therefore "if they unintentionally placed obstacles in my way, I have the consolation of knowing that I overcame them all" (ch XIX). This is enough for Helen, who takes each difficulty as it comes. 

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The Story of My Life

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