The second chapter describes young Helen’s adaptation to being blind and deaf. The condition was a result of an illness when she was a toddler. Helen could not communicate with people in the regular way.
Helen was able to make her will known, because she was intelligent and curious. Although she was blind and deaf, she was aware of the world around her in ways big and small.
I understood a good deal of what was going on about me. … I was always sent for when there was company, and when the guests took their leave, I waved my hand to them, I think with a vague remembrance of the meaning of the gesture. (Ch. 2)
Helen's family had developed some signs of their own, and she knew a few words and bits of language picked up from her hearing days. She was accompanied by Martha Washington, the daughter of the cook, who was a few years older, and a dog. She was annoyed that she could not teach it sign language.
Little Helen had a pretty normal childhood otherwise. She did become more and more incorrigible. She accidentally burned herself in a fire. After she discovered keys and started locking people out of the house, her parents decided she needed a teacher.
Little Helen had a baby sister, which did not thrill her.
For a long time I regarded my little sister as an intruder. I knew that I had ceased to be my mother's only darling, and the thought filled me with jealousy. She sat in my mother's lap constantly, where I used to sit, and seemed to take up all her care and time. (Ch. 2)
Helen tried to throw the baby out of the cradle one day, but fortunately her parents found a teacher to teach Helen language soon afterwards. Before Anne Sullivan arrived, it was difficult for them to control little Helen because they could not communicate with her efficiently. After Anne Sullivan came, that changed quickly.