Masterpieces of Women's Literature The Story of My Life Analysis
The Story of My Life is the story of one young woman’s emergence from the most extreme isolation possible. It is not a story of an “emerging woman” in the usual sense of the term; there is no discussion of sexuality, of women’s place in society, or of societal attitudes. Rather, young Helen was an emerging human being. This is a story of a young woman learning to reach out to the world.
Apart from a few short opening chapters relating to Keller’s vague memories of her early childhood, the tone of this book is largely one of joy. Every new word, every new concept, is a major revelation. A long passage describes her discovery that all objects are associated with words, and a special emphasis is placed on water, the first concept that the young Helen learned to refer to with both speech and sign.
Above all, there is a focus on the essential importance of language. Keller clearly believes that abstract thought is impossible without language, that language is the single most important factor that sets human beings apart from other animals. More than anything else, the author recounts her efforts to use human languages and her emergence as a “real person” as a result of this newfound ability.
There is more than one way to interpret this emphasis. Most people take language for granted. Children who have normal senses of sight and hearing and adequate intelligence do not have to be taught to speak. They learn by listening and watching, by imitation. This path was closed to the little girl trapped in a dark and silent world. It is natural that she should focus on her process of learning to communicate with the outside world.
Keller learned to read and write several foreign languages. At the end of the book, there are references to her emerging love of the works of William Shakespeare, the Greek classics, and other great works of literature. There is a long discussion about her early attempts at becoming a writer herself, at the age of twelve. In later life, Keller would indeed become a successful writer, among other things. At the time that The Story of My Life was written, however, she was still in the process of learning to communicate, and there is very little said about what she would later wish to communicate to the...
(The entire section is 607 words.)