What are the value points in the first ten chapters of The Story Of My Life?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In the first ten chapters of The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, the reader learns about many of the experiences of Helen's early childhood and how she "learnt from life itself" (ch 7). In summarizing the most important aspects of those chapters to find value points, Helen's intention must always be clear. She wants others to learn from any events which have affected her and from the people who have helped to mold her unique personality and from which others can make a better life for themselves despite heartache and intense struggle.

In chapter 1, Helen describes the illness which changes her life for ever as "the illness which closed my eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a new-born baby." She admits that she gets used to it but when the frustration is too much to bear she finds relief in the garden, the paradise of my childhood. 

In chapter 2, Helen's independence is apparent. She mentions how proud she is that she can even do some chores. She also tests her parents' patience and they resolve that she needs a teacher.

In chapter 3, the most significant event is Helen's meeting with the famous Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. Helen comments that "that interview would be the door through which I should pass from darkness into light." It is Dr. Bell who recommends The Perkins' Institute and it is Mr. Anagnos who will send Annie Sullivan to the Keller household.

Chapter 4 begins with the words "The most important day I remember in all my life..." and this confirms how Annie's patience, understanding and determination will ensure Helen has all the tools she needs in her efforts to communicate. "W-A-T-E-R"  is the word which Helen eventually realizes gives her that ability to make herself understood and she says "that living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!"  

Helen now looks forward to learning new things every day but in chapter 5 she also learns that not every experience will be a positive one. Whilst in a tree, a storm blows over and "a nameless fear" overtakes Helen as she feels isolated even if only for a short time. It takes Helen a long time to regain her confidence sufficiently to climb another tree. 

Abstract concepts present Helen with a challenge as she struggles to understand them. It is when Annie tells her to "think" in chapter 6 that she begins to grasp the idea. Helen points out how much longer it takes a child with her disabilities to grasp ideas and she mentions how Annie has conversations with Helen to encourage her to communicate despite the fact that Helen cannot hear tone or see body language or expression.  

Annie's abilities to teach Helen are quite apparent and in chapter 7 she uses every opportunity so that Helen can appreciate so much more than standard lessons could ever teach her. Helen knows that she owes so much to Annie to the extent "that the footsteps of my life are in hers."

Chapter 8 talks about a particular Christmas when Annie gives Helen a canary. Helen loves it and takes good care of it until, unfortunately she accidentally leaves the cage open and it flies away. 

In chapter 9, Helen visits the Perkins' Institute for the Blind and relishes an opportunity to talk to these children "in my own language" by signing into their hands. She is so impressed with Boston that Helen sees it as "the beginning and end of creation." 

Helen gets her first experience of the sea in chapter 10 "this strange, all-enveloping element" which will always fascinate her.  

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