What kind of experience did Helen have in Plymouth?

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Helen's always been fascinated by the ocean and so jumps at the chance to visit Plymouth by steamboat. Once there, as well as visiting Plymouth Rock, she goes to the beach, where she loves the sensation of the tiny grains of sand as they run through her fingers. But more than anything else, she loves the motion of the ocean waves as they swirl about her. Joy soon turns into horror, however, as Helen bangs her foot against a rock. The next thing she knows there's a huge wave crashing over her head. It's a pretty scary situation.

Despite this potentially traumatic experience, Helen's still deeply fascinated by the ocean. But from now on, she'll enjoy the sensation of the sea from a safe distance, at the water's edge.

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When Helen Keller was in Boston, she had the opportunity to visit nearby Plymouth. She was overall excited to be there, but reports a mixed experience. On the positive side, to get there she took her first trip on the ocean, traveling to Plymouth by steamboat. At the same time, she mistakenly thought the "rumble" of the steamboat's machinery was thunder, and so she started to cry, because she was worried that a planned picnic would be rained out.

In recalling the visit to Plymouth, she contrasts her childhood experience with her adult perspective. As a child, she enjoyed touching Plymouth Rock because it made the achievements of the Pilgrims more real to her. She had an idealized view of them as brave and good people who wanted to bring freedom to everyone. As an adult, however, that childhood adulation was tempered by knowledge of their "acts of persecution," which made her "tingle" with shame even as she remembered "the courage and energy that gave us our 'Country Beautiful.'"

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