What is the summary of the essay, Three days to See by Helen Keller?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The name Helen Keller is known by most and for good reason. Her striving against all odds led to her becoming a highly successful,well-respected, motivational speaker - although Anne Sullivan her tutor translated for her and a writer. She changed the perception of people towards blind and deaf people and the disabled in general, as she was such a

powerful, educated, assertive figure

Many people have contemplated what they might do if, say the end of the world was nigh, or death was imminent. ideas are often fanciful and even ridiculous, frivolous, life-threatening and unfortunately mostly meaningless and empty.  Those who have been saved from almost certain death usually gain a new perspective and an appreciation for the simplicity of life.

Helen Keller was well aware how her "seeing" friends took their sight for granted and noted how "the seeing see little" and, without wishing misfortune on anyone, she did reflect that

Darkness would make him more appreciative of sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound.

It is interesting that,whilst discussing the restoration of her sight in Three Days to See, Helen Keller does not wish to have her sight restored permanently but just long enough to allow her to marvel in the things others take for granted.

Helen's first wish on the first day  would be to see those people who have contributed so enormously to her life. Despite her hardship she is ever grateful for those who made everything possible. Anne Sullivan showed such "compassion for all humanity" and Helen wants to "see" it in her eyes.

To see through that "window of the soul", Helen feels would give her "that deeper understanding" of her friends that she feels has been denied to her. Her friends' husbands often do not know "the color of their wives' eyes," and "few see everything" as each person's perception is clouded as he or she fails to appreciate the surroundings.

On the first day Helen wants to appreciate the face of a baby whose innocence

precedes the individual's consciousness of the conflicts which life develops

All Helen's desires for the first day are simple pleasures; being able to see her dogs, see all the things that make "a house into home." "Intoxicate,"" absorb,"" vast,"" splendour,"" serene" and "colorful" are all words she uses to describe her would-be first "seeing" day. The wonder of "artificial" light is no less appreciated.  

Sleep would elude Helen on that first day.

Museums would fill Helen's second day. as she takes a "hasty glimpse" into "the kaleidoscope of the ages." Art and the history of Art -  "I can only guess at the beauty which remains hidden from me" - are crucial to her new and fleeting experience. Helen is saddened that the world of Art, which she finds so fascinating "is a dark night, unexplored and unilluminated" to sighted people.

Helen regrets that her wish allows her only three days as she cannot possibly appreciate everything within such a short space of time. She only wishes that others appreciated drama and art and all things that need sight to truly understand them.

Helen would not sleep on the second night as visions would interfere.

On the third day, Helen would visit New York City to enable her to become part of everyday life. Surely then, having looked upon her friends, understood history and experienced everyday life, despite all that she has left to see she will have no regrets.

All that remains is for those who have the "gift" of sight to put it to good use.