The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

The Story of My Life book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download The Story of My Life Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction The Story of My Life Analysis

The Story of My Life is more an account of Keller’s intellectual growth than an indepth look at her early years. As a result, Keller highlights those moments in her life that shaped her, particularly those relating to language acquisition and learning to speak and read. For example, her most detailed sketches revolve around how Anne Sullivan helped her learn that objects have names and Keller’s own preparation for college. Often, Keller is vague about dates and does not provide the full names of people who have been important to her. At the same time, however, several chapters include detailed descriptions of the books she has read and her studies at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies and later at Radcliffe. Her reading, she claims, had been much more a part of her education than for most people because it was through books that she gained knowledge that others learn from seeing and hearing.

Although Keller provides some background information about her parents, she is mostly concerned with other people only as they contributed to her education, including such famous individuals as Alexander Graham Bell. Openly concerned that she not fictionalize her story, she rarely records conversations. She is also careful not to provide any details about the places she had visited or the people she had met that she could not remember accurately.

At the end of the book, Keller suggests that the story of her life has been created by her many friends. As a result of her indebtedness to others, her view of them is generally positive. Keller clearly idolized Sullivan, to whom she usually refers as “my teacher.” In Keller’s view, Sullivan had become a part of her very being. Every one of her own talents or aspirations, Keller explains, had been awakened by Sullivan.

To a lesser extent, Keller also praises the help she received from Sarah Fuller, who taught her to speak, and her tutor, Merton S. Keith. Similarly, she acknowledges the sympathy and tenderness of Alexander Graham Bell, who first helped Keller’s father contact the Perkins Institute and who accompanied her to the world’s fair in 1893. Keller does, however, occasionally hint at disagreements between her friends. For example, because of a conflict between Sullivan and Mr. Gilman, the principal of the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, Keller withdrew from the school to study at home. She also recounts the controversy surrounding a story she wrote, but she is careful not to attack Mr. Anagnos of the Perkins Institute for turning...

(The entire section is 645 words.)