Defining characteristics help people identify traits that are particular, for example, to children, to animals, and so on. Specific characteristics then help to identify a specific person or thing in terms of unique features which make that person or thing stand out. In the case of Helen Keller, her courage and indomitable spirit define her because she overcame hardship and apparent misfortune and rose above it to become the success she known as even today. She left a legacy far greater than anything monetary, and she serves as an inspiration to others.
She devoted her life to helping others despite obvious barriers to success. One of the reasons why she wrote The Story of My Life at the age of only 22 is so that others could witness her achievement, not for her own glory but so as to stress the similarities to her readers' own struggles so that they might grow and succeed. She hoped her story would serve to motivate others never to give up, regardless of circumstances, time, or seemingly overwhelming odds. Her book serves as a revelation that nothing is impossible. Her name remains a symbol the world over.
It is important to mention that Helen was not afraid to show how ambitious she was. Determination is a very important characteristic of an ambitious person, but sometimes ambition becomes destructive as people become arrogant and self-serving. However, Helen's ambition was mitigated by compassion and humility. She never forgot that she was dependent on Anne Sullivan and would have been a lesser person without her. As Helen says:
The footsteps of my life are in hers. All the best of me belongs to her—there is not a talent, or an aspiration or a joy in me that has not been awakened by her loving touch.
Helen would have argued that patience was not one of her virtues; however, her achievements speak for themselves and reveal that, even if Anne was the one who displayed the most incredible amount of patience, that patience certainly rubbed off on Helen.