Summary Of The Story Of My Life By Helen Keller Chapter 1 To 12

Review the first nine chapters of The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.


The beginning of the story gives some background on Helen's family and sets up the challenges she faced as a blind and deaf child. She makes breakthroughs in overcoming the setbacks of her disabilities by meeting Alexander Graham Bell and Anne Sullivan, who helped Helen communicate and not be discouraged. Her education allows her to experience and enjoy the world that previously frustrated her.

Expert Answers

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

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller is an inspirational account of Helen's attempts to make sense of her "dayless" world and the people with whom she shared it. By the close of Chapter 9 it is already clear to the reader that Helen is a determined child who, despite enormous odds, is sure to succeed. Her stubbornness has become one of her strongest attributes.

Helen relishes her time in Boston where the other blind children can speak her "language" and "I lost all sense of pain in the pleasure of their companionship." In her autobiography, Helen is able to chart her progress, including life before her illness so that the reader can learn from her experiences and gain encouragement from them.

By the end of the first chapter, the reader has been introduced to Helen's family background and even a mention of Ann Sullivan, who will "set my spirit free." The most significant part of those earliest memories are Helen's recollections of the garden " the paradise of my childhood" which would become Helen's vital link to the outside world as her senses of touch and smell became so crucial to her survival.

In chapter 2, Helen reveals her stubborn streak as she recalls an occasion when locks Miss Sullivan in a room and refuses to release the key, forcing her father to help Miss Sullivan out through a window. Helen's independence is also revealed and her attempts almost lead to disaster as she almost sets the house and herself on fire in an attempt to dry her apron. No mention is made of her parents reaction which is key as obviously their support contributes to her growing independence. Everything Helen does at least lessens the effect of her  "silent, aimless, dayless life." Martha Washington becomes her friend and helps Helen explore and have a life as normal as possible.

In chapter 3, there is a huge breakthrough as Helen's parents take her to Baltimore and onward to Washington where her appointment with Alexander Graham Bell will provide " the door through which I should pass from darkness into light." It is becoming urgent that she finds some way to communicate as her outburts are becoming unmanageable as they occur "daily, sometimes hourly."  It is subsequent to this meeting that will introduce the family to Ann Sullivan in chapter 4.

"The most important day I remember in all my life" is of course the arrival of Miss Sullivan who will become her companion, friend and interpreter. The event for which Helen Keller is most easily remembered takes place in chapter 4 as the word "W-A-T-E-R" becomes "That living word (that) awakened my soul."

In chapter 5 Helen has her first real scare as she experiences the full force of nature which "hides treacherous claws" under a soft exterior. Helen though learns from everything that happens to her.Chapter 6 expresses Helen's first attempts with language as she struggles to understand abstract concepts such as "love."

The importance of Helen's educaion and Ann Sullivan's approach is revealed in chapter 7 as anything that  can "hum, or buzz, or sing, or bloom" becomes a part of it. Learning to read is a great adventure and she learns from "life itself." Helen struggles with arithmetic but relishes anything natural. By chapter 8 she recalls an exciting Christmas experience and Chapter 9 is her first visit to Boston.

It is possible to learn a lot about the personality of this little girl in just a short space of time.  


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

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

Already a member? Log in here.

Are you a teacher? Sign up now