What happens in Chapter 17?
Chapter seventeen of The Story of My Life covers the summer of 1894, when Helen was a young teenager. It was during that summer that Helen attended a very important meeting of the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf. After this meeting, it was decided that Helen would attend the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City. This school was chosen so that Helen could have "the highest advantages in vocal culture and training in lip-reading."
Helen also studied academic courses at the school, such as German. She made progress in her German class. Though the main purpose of attending this school was so that Helen could learn how to speak, her "progress in lip-reading and speech was not what... [she] had hoped and expected it would be." She did work diligently, though her progress was slow.
Despite her disappointment in her own progress, Helen enjoyed her time in New York. She liked to take walks in Central Park, out among nature. She also visited West Point, Tarrytown, and Sleepy Hollow.
The chapter ended with Helen describing a sorrowful event in her life. A dear friend, John P. Spaulding, died. She had appreciated his kindness and his "loving presence." Helen clearly missed her friend.
Chapter 17 opens with Helen's enrollment at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City, in October 1894. Helen went there with Miss Sullivan, and during her two year stay there studied a range of subjects, including French, German and Physical Geography. While Helen excelled in German, her progress in lip-reading and speech was not as fast. In fact, her lack of progress in this subject caused her some "depression" which she overcame through her study of geography. She particularly enjoyed walking in Central Park, for example, and reading and learning about the "secrets of Nature." In the spring, Helen enjoyed more adventures, including a trip along the Hudson River and a visit to West Point, the famous home of Washington Irving.
As she prepared to leave Wright-Humason, however, Helen received some sad news: her friend, John P. Spaulding, had died. Helen notes that this was one of the "greatest sorrows" she had ever "borne," second only to the death of her father.