Chapter 1 describes Helen’s family and her life before she was blind and deaf, as well as the introduction of her teacher Anne Sullivan.
Helen was only a baby when she lost her sight and hearing. At the age of 19 months, she had barely learned to use language.
I showed many signs of an eager, self-asserting disposition. Everything that I saw other people do I insisted upon imitating. At six months I could pipe out "How d'ye," and one day I attracted every one's attention by saying "Tea, tea, tea" quite plainly. (ch 1)
It is a difficult time to be thrust into a world of darkness. Since she had no communication, it was difficult for her to experience the world. She focused on the few words she knew, such as “wah-wah” for water. Until Anne came to open up her lines of communication again when she was six years old, she was scared, confused, and lonely.
Strong-willed even as an infant, Helen spent four long years in the dark and silence. She had very little human interaction of the kind she had as a baby, because she could not experience the people around her in the same way anymore. Anne Sullivan changed all of this, finally giving her words and making her human again.