What is the theme of Chapter 19 in The Story of My Life?

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe the theme of this chapter in Helen Keller’s memoir is “Triumph over many challenges.” Here she tells the story of how difficult it was for her to complete her college preparatory work. She began these studies at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in October 1896, under the leadership of principal Arthur Gilman. Through the use of special embossed textbooks, a Braille typewriter, and Anne Sullivan’s signing fingers, Helen was able to do well. When her second year started in the fall of 1897, however, more obstacles arose. No embossed textbooks were ready on time. The classes were too large for personal instruction to be given to Helen. Most of the subject matter was a form of mathematics, which was something she struggled with. And then Mr. Gilman announced that he thought she was overworked and should stay on there for a few more years. In defiance, Helen’s mother withdrew her and her sister Mildred from the school. Helen instead began independent study under Merton S. Keith of Cambridge. Through him she finished learning algebra, geometry, Greek, and Latin. In June 1899, she was scheduled to take her exams to get into Radcliffe College. Anne Sullivan was not allowed to help her, but Mr. Vining from the Perkins Institute did instead. Unfortunately, he used the American Braille system and Helen had used the English version, so she quickly had to be schooled in the differences in order to take the examinations. Nevertheless, she overcame all of these obstacles and passed the tests. Hers is an amazing story.