The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

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What is the theme of The Story of My Life by Helen Keller?  

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A main theme of The Story of My Life is the power of perseverance. Helen is at a significant disadvantage in her life due to her disabilities, yet she is persistent enough to overcome these great obstacles. Another theme is the importance of role models, as Anne Sullivan's guidance changes Helen's life.

 


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piratejaime eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The major theme in Helen Keller's The Story of My Life is that drive and resilience in the face of adversity can lead to success beyond anyone's expectations. Another theme in the book is how important it is to have someone believe in you. In Keller's case, the obstacle she faces is losing her sight and hearing at a young age. At the time, many people thought Helen would never be able to speak, given the extent of her disabilities. However, with the help of her dedicated teacher Anne Sullivan, Keller is able to overcome her physical limitations and learn to speak, read, and write. Keller's desire to learn about the world and make positive contributions leads her to Radcliffe, the prestigious sister university to Harvard. While there, Keller succeeds academically, despite the difficulty of the work and the lack of modern day resources to support her. 

Although Keller's drive to learn about the world and make her mark on it is incredible, she likely would never have been as successful as she was if Anne Sullivan hadn't had the faith and patience to believe that she could be taught. It was through Sullivan's incredible support and ingenuity that Keller was given the tools to understand her world and to make her mark in it. Without Anne Sullivan's guidance, Keller may have been forever locked in the dark, confusing, and tumultuous world she had been living in ever since she lost her sight and hearing. 

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The theme of The Story of My Life by Helen Keller is the power of perseverance to overcome great obstacles. Keller is struck with an illness when she is a very young child that makes her blind and deaf, and she exists in a world of confusion. She can not communicate with others but wants desperately to make herself understood and to understand others. She writes of this time, "At times that I kicked and screamed until I was exhausted." Keller, with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, goes on from this state of frustration to learn to write, read, and speak with sign language and Braille. Through endless hours of hard work, she also attends Radcliffe, the sister school of Harvard. In her studies, she has to apply herself with much more dedication than other students, but she does so and triumphs as a result. 

Another theme of this book is the power of the right kind of education. As Keller writes, "It was my teacher's genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful." Through the power of perseverance and through the thoughtful and enlightened education of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, who was trained to work with blind children, Keller blossoms. Sullivan uses the natural world and objects that are dear to Keller, such as her doll, to teach her the names of objects and then to teach her to read. As Keller writes about her early education in the outdoors, "The loveliness of things taught me all their use." Anne Sullivan knows what will motivate Keller, and she uses her gifts as a teacher to teach Keller and enable her to go on to great achievements. 

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