What is the summary of chapter 2 in Helen Keller's Story of My Life?

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hello! You asked for a summary of Chapter 2 in Helen Keller's Story Of My Life.

Helen Keller starts out by telling us how she learns to communicate with others in the first few months after her illness. She credits her mother with smoothing her transition into a world made difficult by her disabilities. Helen learns how to make simple signs to make herself understood and she also learns how to distinguish between people leaving or coming into the house. One day, she is prompted to dress for company when she feels the front door shut and sees other signs that a gentleman is visiting her mother.

Helen notices that other people do not use signs when they communicate. Although she tries to move her lips, no sounds come out of her mouth. In frustration, she often throws tantrums; her nurse, Ella, is often on the receiving end of her violent tantrums, but Helen's sense of regret does not last long. She is only interested in getting what she wants.

Helen's constant companions are Martha Washington, the cook's daughter, and Belle, an old dog. She orders Martha around mercilessly and has no trouble getting Martha to do what she wants. Helen is strong, stubborn and indifferent to consequences. She and Martha spend time helping in the kitchen, getting into mischief, and going egg-hunting. When Belle does not do what Helen wants, the poor dog has to endure violent retribution from Helen.

Helen tells us that she almost gets herself badly burned one day when she ventures too close to the fire in an effort to dry her wet apron. It is about this time that she also learns the use of a key. Due to her mischievous and contrary nature, she locks her mother in the pantry and Miss Sullivan (her teacher) in her room. Helen displays no regret for her actions.

Helen had a warm relationship with her father; he was a fantastic story-teller, a great hunter and a generous host. She remembers the wonderful fruits her father grew in his big garden. She finds it difficult to speak of her mother, but Helen tells us that her mother is always near her. While she had a wonderful relationship with both her parents, Helen was initially jealous of her younger sister, Mildred, who claimed much of their mother's attention after she was born. Helen relates to us that she overturns her baby sister's cradle one day. It is only by the fortuitous intervention of their mother that Helen's sister is not killed. Helen tells us that those who endure 'twofold solitude' know 'little of the tender affections that grow out of endearing words and actions and companionship.'  The chapter ends with Helen telling us that she and Mildred eventually became happy companions, 'content to go hand-in-hand wherever caprice led' them.

Thanks for the question. I encourage you to read the chapter to appreciate the full scope of Helen's experience. If you have already read the chapter, well done!

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