What are some lessons from Helen Keller's life based on the first 12 chapters of The Story of My Life?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most important lessons from Helen Keller’s life is that we should not let things hold us back. Helen Keller could not see or hear, but she still learned language and engaged with the world on a pretty normal level. Many of us face hardships and want to give up.  Helen Keller’s life is inspiring because she never did.

Even when Helen was very young, she was persistent.  She had existed in a world of darkness, but she was desperate to learn to communicate with others. She wanted to learn language!

As soon as I could spell a few words my teacher gave me slips of cardboard on which were printed words in raised letters. I quickly learned that each printed word stood for an object, an act, or a quality. (Ch. 7)

Helen goes from learning what words are to being able to make sentences, just like any other child.  She is intelligent and persistent, and she never lets anything hold her back.  Helen’s ability to learn to read and write is inspirational, because she loves learning for learning’s sake.

Another lesson from Helen’s life is her love of nature.  I guess you could call it a lesson to stop and smell the roses. She could experience nature fairly fully because it was so sensory.  Even without sight or hearing, Helen could explore the world around her and she never ceased to delight in it.

Helen describes how from a young age she learned about the “beneficence of nature” with Anne Sullivan’s help.

I learned how the sun and the rain make to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, how birds build their nests and live and thrive from land to land, how the squirrel, the deer, the lion and every other creature finds food and shelter. (Ch. 5)

Helen loves everything about nature, from climbing trees to tobogganing in the snow.  She gets frightened one day when a storm hits while she is in a tree, but she does not let this put her off tree-climbing for good.  She gets back up in trees, getting over her fear, and continues to enjoy nature.