In attempting to inspire others to reach their full potential, Helen Keller gives a personal account of her early life in The Story of My Life. She was left blind and deaf after an illness as a baby and her parents do not know how to help her but are willing to try anything. One of the parents' referrals leads the family towards an introduction to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and subsequently Helen's life changes forever. She acknowledges "that that interview (with Dr. Bell) would be the door through which I should pass from darkness into light" because he then refers the Kellers to Mr Anagnos and The Perkins' Institute for the Blind from where Annie comes - a former pupil and now Helen's young and inexperienced governess.
Annie is a spirited individual and refuses to give up on Helen who compares herself to a ship lost at sea before Annie's arrival. Annie constantly spells words into Helen's hands and this intrigues Helen but it will take a lot of patience and persistence before Helen finally makes the connection between Annie's spelling and the meaning of words. Annie tries to teach Helen the words "d-o-l-l ...m-u-g ...and w-a-t-e-r- butThe first word that Helen really understands is "W-A-T-E-R" and it is the realization of this that leads to "a misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought." Helen does not remember all the words she learnt on that memorable day but knows that "mother, father, sister, brother" were among them.