The Story of My Life Questions and Answers
by Helen Keller

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What is a summary of Helen Keller's The Story of My Life?

The Story of My Life is an autobiography by Helen Keller, who lost her hearing and vision as a child. She describes how she learned to read, write, and talk with the help of teacher Anne Sullivan.

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Helen Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life, covers the first part of the author’s life, up until her graduation from Radcliffe College. It is strongly focused on her education.

In the second year of her life, Keller became seriously ill, and her eventual recovery left her deaf and blind. Her parents took her to seeing one of the country’s leading oculists, Dr. Chisholm of Baltimore, who said that he could do nothing to cure her blindness, but that she could still be educated.

In 1887, Anne Mansfield Sullivan came to the Kellers’ home to be Keller’s teacher. Sullivan taught her pupil to spell out letters into her hand and, one day, managed to connect in her mind the cool, fresh sensation of running water with the word “water.” The following year, Keller went to study at the Perkins Institution for the Blind, and in 1890 she began to learn the elements of speech under the tuition of Sarah Fuller, principal of the Horace Mann School. Upon returning home, she found that...

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The Story of My Life is Hellen Keller's autobiography. Stricken with illness early in life that left her blind and deaf, Keller claims to tell her story as part of an attempt to validate her experiences with her disability, and to make the disabled subject more intelligible to the public.

The book is split into three parts. The first part recalls Keller's initial despair, as she tried to navigate life and obtain an education without readily available tools to make blind people's everyday experience easier. She finds solace in reading and writing, learning to use language as her primary tool.

Part two is composed of various letters written to Keller's friends and family. In them, she reveals insecurities about her proficiency at verbal expression, preferring the written form after finding it difficult to get feedback with which she could measure her progress with spoken language. The section is organized such that in each successive letter, Keller's written proficiency is improved. It is as much an autobiographical work as a demonstration of the fruits of her industriousness.

The third and final part of the book reconstructs Keller's narrative using the observations of Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, who stayed alongside her for almost half a century. Sullivan gives an account of Anne's prodigious intellect and drive, tracing her improvement from the early days, in which she picked up on new vocabulary at an exponential rate, through her later adoption of the Braille system and acceptance into Radcliffe College at Harvard.