Why does Helen consider the old-fashioned garden the paradise of her childhood?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

From her early years, Keller, as she describes in her memoir, had a love of nature. Being blind and deaf, she enjoyed going into the garden near her house, Ivy Green, because she liked the scents of the flowers and the boxwood hedges. She says it was a "joy" to go from place to place in the garden until she found a particular vine that meant she had arrived at the summer house at the garden's far end. This suggests that the garden was a place of mystery and wonder to her—she wasn't quite sure where she was at any given time, and she had to rely on her senses of smell and touch to guide her.

She writes of loving the clematis, jessamine, and butterfly lilies, but especially the climbing roses. She says she has never, in northern greenhouses, found roses like those that bloomed at her childhood home, describing them as

filling the whole air with their fragrance, untainted by any earthy smell; and in the early morning, washed in the dew, they felt so soft, so pure, I could not help wondering if they did not resemble the asphodels of God's garden.

It must have been a pleasure to escape a domestic world, where it was difficult for her to communicate, and enter into a place where she could feel free and experience the beauty of nature.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Helen inherits her father's love for gardens. And for her, the garden near her home becomes a haven from a dark and troubled world. Spending time among all those flowers with their soft, smooth textures and their delicate fragrances allows Helen to develop two of her remaining senses. The garden becomes a true paradise for Helen, a sanctuary of peace and repose where she can engage with the outside world in a way that simply isn't possible elsewhere. The delights of the garden crucially foreshadow an event of great significance in Helen's life. The connection she establishes with the world around her in the garden is developed further when Annie teaches her the rudiments of language during that extraordinary day at the water-pump.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial