What character sketch of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell is found in Helen Keller's autobiography The Story of My Life?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chapter III of her autobiography, Helen Keller notes that she was referred to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell by Dr. Chisholm when she was 6 years old, during the summer of 1886. Though Dr. Bell was unable to do anything about Helen's condition, he gave the Kellers hope in seeing to her education and advised Mr. Keller to send a letter to Mr. Anagnos, the director of the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, who sent Miss Anne Sullivan to be Helen's teacher.

Helen remembers her childhood meeting with Dr. Bell fondly and tells us a bit about what he was like as a person. Helen notes that, even as a young child, she was able to sense the "tenderness and sympathy" in Dr. Bell that "endeared Dr. Bell to so many hearts." She describes Dr. Bell as being very interactive with her. He understood her primitive self-invented sign language, sat her on his knee, and let her play with his watch, showing us what a kind and compassionate man he truly was.

As Helen grew up and continued her education, Dr. Bell remained a prominent figure in her life. In Chapter XV, she states that, when she was 13, she and Miss Sullivan visited the World's Fair in Chicago with Dr. Bell. Helen notes that Dr. Bell accompanied them to every exhibit at the fair and "in his own delightful way described to [her] the objects of greatest interest."

Later, in Chapter XXIII, she describes his love of children, his "poetic side," and his interests as a scientist and inventor. She notes that she spent many hours with him both in and outside of his laboratory as he explained his experiments and let her help him fly kites through which he anticipated "discover[ing] the laws that shall govern the future air-ship."

All in all, Helen describes Dr. Bell as a kind, caring, compassionate, gentleman and influential genius.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial