From The Story of My Life, what happened as a result of Helen's inability to express herself?  

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen Keller's life is one of success and achievement against overwhelming odds. As a woman at the turn of the nineteenth century and as a disabled person, she was able to realize her dreams and help so many others in the process.

However, as recalled in The Story of My Life, her autobiographical account of the first twenty two years of her life, there are many instances when Helen exhibits violent tendencies with outbursts that would scare many. Fortunately, Helen's very outbursts which   "occurred daily, sometimes hourly"(Ch III) drive her parents to seek advice from all sources in their quest to help their daughter communicate better thus opening doors. Helen's interview with the renowned Alexander Graham Bell "would be the door through which I should pass from darkness into light."(Ch III)  

The outbursts show a side of Helen that, left alone could have had very different consequences. Her family though supportd her even when she attempts to throw Mildred, her baby sister out of the cradle reserved for Helen's beloved doll Nancy. Luckily Helen's mother caught the baby and Helen is taught the value of relationships and once she is  "restored to my human heritage"(ChII) and able to understand the value of real relationships , Helen and Mildred "grew into each other's hearts."

Helen also takes pleasure out of upsetting Ann Sullivan but Ann is ultimately the person who will "set my spirit free" and no amount of cleaning up after Helen or putting up with her nastiness stops her.


teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen Keller was fortunate to have caring and compassionate parents. They tolerated the tantrums and rage that were Helen's response to not being able to communicate because of losing her sight and hearing.

As Helen got older and her needs became more sophisticated, it became harder and harder for her to communicate with the crude signs she had developed. She tells her readers that she had outbursts of frustration (she calls it "passion") as she struggled harder and harder to communicate. Often she would collapse in tears, utterly spent.

As Helen describes how she felt during this time, she asks:

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was.

Helen's parents not only tolerated her anger, they sought out help. This finally came in the form of Anne Sullivan, Helen's teacher and mentor. Once Helen grasped how to communicate with Sullivan, her whole world changed immeasurably for the better.

Read the study guide:
The Story of My Life

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