What does the book, The Story Of My Life by Helen Keller, teach us ?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Story of My Life is Helen Keller's autobiography encompassing life as she knows it until the age of 22. At this point, Helen is in college and already making a name for herself.

The level of self-awareness of Helen Keller is rare in any young person, let alone a person with the challenges she faces. She recognizes the significance of Ann Sullivan's arrival as "The most important day I remember in all my life."  Helen sets very high standards for herself and, in so doing, for those around her - especially Ann Sullivan who "set my spirit free" (Ch 1) but she is always mindful of this and knows she is not the only one making compromises and sacrifices.

This is itself an important life lesson for anyone reading The Story of My Life as it is easy to feel self-pity and resentment when things do not go our way.  Even Helen's parents are "grieved and perplexed"  and "my mother's only ray of hope"  (Ch 2) is a story she has heard about Laura Bridgman, an educated blind and deaf girl. A person without disabilities can be led to understand that NO problem is insurmountable and a person with disabilities can be inspired to keep trying. The family members of a disabled person can also be inspired by the level of support Helen's family and friends show.

Just about every day is a test for her. She recalls a terrifying incident during her " soul's sudden awakening" (Ch 5) when a change in the weather makes her feel "absolutely alone, cut off from my friends and the firm earth" (Ch5) . Helen realises that she will not be treated differently and although her experience involves the weather she knows it is not only "nature " that can be cruel and  the "softest touch hides treacherous claws." Anyone reading The Story of My Life can see the benefit of including even the most basic activities in forming a complete person as "everything that could hum, or buzz, or sing, or bloom had a part in my education."

Helen has many disappointments and learns many lessons along the way, even the times when she is disillusioned teach her something. She learns to speak but knows that " most people would not have understood one word in a hundred."(Ch XIII). She writes a book which turns out to be a rendition of someone else's which causes a rift in a dear friendship but also provides encouragement from the writer herself. From Heln's perspective, "I learned from life itself" and that is the most valuable lesson her book can teach.