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The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller

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What are some examples of challenges Helen Keller faced in her life from The Story of My Life?

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Helen Keller faced many challenges, but she did not back down from any of them. Even though she lost her sight and hearing as a toddler, she did not let it stop her from facing the world on her own terms. She was a vivacious and precocious child. 

She had no teacher at first, so she knew no real language except baby talk and a few homemade signs. She noticed she was she was different from other people in how they talked to each other. She used signs, while they used their mouths.

Sometimes I stood between two persons who were conversing and touched their lips. I could not understand, and was vexed. I moved my lips and gesticulated frantically without result. This made me so angry at times that I kicked and screamed until I was exhausted (Chapter 2).

After Anne Sullivan came, Helen had to learn everything.  She had to learn how to speak with her hands in proper sign language and how to speak with her mouth so hearing people could understand her even if she couldn't hear herself. She also learned how to have a conversation. This was all in addition to what children regularly learn in school.

When Helen did go to school, it was a big deal. She went to school in preparation for going to college, which was an even bigger deal. Helen and Anne were not daunted. Anne had to work hard. She often had to translate Helen’s books because they were not in braille and interpreted her lectures for her. 

Even applying for college was difficult because the examinations had to be translated into braille since they would not let Anne translate them. It was very stressful for Helen. Despite everything, Helen was accepted to college.

I took my preliminary examinations for Radcliffe from the 29th of June to the 3rd of July in 1897. The subjects I offered were Elementary and Advanced German, French, Latin, English, and Greek and Roman history, making nine hours in all. I passed in everything, and received "honours" in German and English (Chapter 18).

As these incidents demonstrate, Helen Keller faced and overcame challenges throughout her life. She never gave up. She never let her disability get in the way of what she wanted to do.

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