In The Story of my Life, how did Helen overcome her helplessness? Explain.

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, Helen reveals her helplessness as she struggles to mimic those around her, especially her parents but is unable to find any satisfaction or understand her situation except to know that she is "different from other people." In an effort to be like her mother she "moved my lips and gesticulated frantically without result," even though she knows that others communicate this way. Her desperation is so real, that in chapter 2, Helen describes her life as "that silent, aimless, dayless life."

When Annie Sullivan arrives, Helen's life is about to change forever as Annie introduces Helen to words. Helen's first realization that words are the key to communication comes when she first learns that "W-A-T-E-R meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand" (chapter 4).  Helen admits that she is so encouraged that she "longed for a new day to come." 

Helen is able to overcome so many difficulties and is encouraged to "learn from life itself," taking every event and turning it into a learning opportunity. In among these events is one of the worst experiences for her and which she talks about in chapter 14 when she refers to "The Frost King;" a particularly painful memory for Helen. However, as Helen is still young, she is able to move on eventually from the unpleasantness associated with her alleged plagiarism although she is mindful that this really could have "broken my spirit beyond repairing" (chapter 14). Everything is manageable for Helen as long as she has Annie' support because she is the only one who can "turn drudgery into pleasure" (chapter 18). 

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The Story of My Life

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