What was Helen's experience during her visit to the World's Fair?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen visited the World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois in the summer of 1893. At the fair, Helen's dear friend Alexander Graham Bell served as a guide to her and Ms. Sullivan. Alexander Graham Bell was already a well-known inventor.  

Despite being deaf and blind, Helen felt a sense of wonder in being at the fair. Helen was full of joy as the "marvels of invention, treasures of industry and skill and all the activities of human life actually passed under [her] finger tips." Scenes from places around the world could be found at the Midway Plaisance, which Helen enjoyed. Scenes from Venice, Cairo, and India were there. There was even a recreation of a Viking ship. There was also a model of the Columbus ship, the Santa Maria.

The President of the World's Fair, a man named Mr. Higinbotham, allowed Helen "to touch the exhibits." This let Helen experience the fair in her own way. Alexander Graham Bell communicated information to Helen about the fair and described what surrounded her. It was in the "electrical building [that they] examined the telephones, autophones, phonographs, and other inventions," which fascinated Helen. He explained to her how those new inventions worked.

Helen was at the fair for three weeks. She loved all the things she was able to discover there.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen Keller visited the World's Fair for three weeks in the summer of 1893 with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, and with the inventor (and her friend) Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. The president of the fair, Mr. Higinbotham, gave her permission to touch the exhibits.

Helen visited the Midway Plaisance, where she experienced many of the world's marvels, including the bazaars of India, a model of Cairo with camels and mosques, and the lagoons around Venice. She also boarded a Viking ship and a saw a model of the Santa Maria, where a replica of Columbus's hourglass made her appreciate how scared Columbus must have felt as his men planned to kill him. She also saw the Cape of Good Hope exhibit, in which she learned about how diamonds are mined. She was introduced to new forms of technology, such as the telephone and phonograph, and Alexander Graham Bell explained them to her. Finally, she saw anthropological relics, which she credited with helping her understand the progress of humans. 

Touching the exhibits with her hands, Helen referred to them as "a sort of tangible kaleidoscope." In her time at the fair, she learned a great deal about the world and about new forms of technology, and she learned a large number of new words. 

Read the study guide:
The Story of My Life

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