In The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, what does the incident of the towel doll tell you about Helen?

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durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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There are many significant events in The Story of My Life and some of them are truly life-changing for Helen. Some of the events she describes seem far less noteworthy but Helen includes them because for them to have created a memory indicates that they have a deeper meaning. One such recollection is the towel doll that Helen's aunt makes for her before her momentous visit to Baltimore and onward to Washington where she is introduced to Dr Alexander Graham Bell, who will become the facilitator who provides "the door through which I should pass from darkness into light."(Ch 3)

Helen's aunt has made an" improvised doll," with no features at all. It is the lack of a set of eyes that bothers Helen the most to the point that her aunt sews on two buttons for eyes. After this Helen shows no further interest in the doll.

This incident reveals Helen's understanding of the relevance of eyes and how they make a difference to even something as basic as this doll. Just as a person is compromised without sight Helen cannot bear the thought of her doll being compromised in this way.

Helen will mature into a person who always strives to help others.   

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teachersage's profile pic

teachersage | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The incident of the towel doll shows Helen as an engaged, intelligent child with her own ideas about the world, and she is happy when she is able to communicate her needs.

Notably she receives the towel doll from her aunt during one of the last events in her life before Miss Sullivan appears. Helen is being taken by her parents and her aunt to Baltimore to see if a renowned eye doctor can help her. On the train she is actually happy, because she is experiencing novelty, and her mind is engaged with stringing beads and playing with a hole punch. However, she is disturbed by her new doll's lack of eyes and pulls two beads from her aunt's cloak to use for eyes. This shows her initiative and capacity to solve a problem. Also she and the aunt are able to communicate successfully. Since Helen loses interest in the doll once it has its eyes, the incident shows that what was important to her was being able to communicate a concept beyond a very basic one. This incident helps the stage for how important the arrival of Miss Sullivan, her bridge to communication, will be.