Black and white illustration of Helen Keller

The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Bishop Brooks' characterization and his relationship with Helen Keller in The Story of My Life

Summary:

Bishop Brooks is characterized as a kind, patient, and wise mentor in Helen Keller's The Story of My Life. He played a significant role in Keller's spiritual development, teaching her about God's love and the importance of faith. Their relationship was one of mutual respect and deep affection, greatly influencing Keller's outlook on life and spirituality.

Expert Answers

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

Describe Bishop Brooks in The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.

Bishop Brooks is not only a friend of Helen Keller; she is also a role model for him. He had immense influence on her, especially on her worldview and beliefs about religion and God. The bishop helped her understand religion and clear her doubts and confusions about it. He encouraged her, even after his death, to read the Bible and to continue to think about these issues. 

We can say that the bishop helped shape Helen as a person. He was a teacher who helped direct her thinking and helped her understand the universal truths about religion as he understood and lived them.

These words sum up what Bishop Brooks meant to Helen:

"...he gave me a real sense of joy in life...."

"Bishop Brooks taught me no special creed or dogma; but he impressed upon my mind two great ideas--the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and made me feel that these truths underlie all creeds and forms of worship."

"I have found no creed or system more soul-satisfying than Bishop Brooks's creed of love."

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Describe Bishop Brooks in The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.

Helen Keller has inspired many with her book, The Story of My Life, which traces her life up to the age of only 22 years of age but which gives readers such insight into her struggles and ample motivation to always strive for the best, despite times when their lives may seem "silent, aimless, dayless," such as Helen herself admits of her own life. In this book, Helen Keller does not shy away from the unpleasantness of events as she could so easily have done, romanticizing her life and her efforts. Instead, as her intention was to inspire others to overcome their own difficulties, she includes events that could have changed her life and her direction and the people who ensured that she succeeded. Helen credits those who influenced her life, some famous and others that make her feel that "all is well." Bishop Brooks is one of these people.

It is a huge struggle for Helen to ensure she meets and exceeds expectations and Bishop Brooks is someone who is steadfast in his belief in and acceptance of Helen. In Helen, a girl so vastly different from himself in beliefs and age, he recognizes an indomitable spirit and he sees that, although Helen is suffering, she is able to teach others how to humble themselves and rise above challenges which seem insurmountable. He understands that, unwittingly, she reveals something that he has been trying to teach his congregation for years: that goodness and hope do exist in the darkest and most unlikely of places. The famous hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem was written by Bishop Brooks; the second verse, although never attributed to his friendship with Helen, speaks of "How silently, how silently, The Wondrous gift is given..." He was always astounded by Helen's ability to reach others without really saying a word. 

The fact that Bishop Brooks never judges Helen and trusts her and never questions her relationship with God which, by her own admittance, is not a traditional one but is somewhat unresolved, ensures that Helen and Bishop Brooks remain lifelong friends. He teaches Helen, even from a young age, that "wrong shall not triumph." Even after he dies, Helen knows that there is "no creed or system more soul-satisfying than Bishop Brooks's creed of love." 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Describe Bishop Brooks in The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.

In The Story of My Life, there are many influential people that affect Helen Keller. She values and recognizes their contribution to her development. One such person is Bishop Brooks whom Helen describes as amongst "men of genius."(ch 23) The Bible has never interested Helen, to the point she actually finds it "devoid of interest" at first. As always, Helen perseveres and comes to an appreciation although she continues to dislike the "barbarous" events recalled there.  Bishop Brook never tries to influence Helen's religious choices, rather guiding her towards "one universal religion." (ch 23)

Ever since she was a child, Helen has delighted in Bishop Brooks' presence and has always been content after spending time with him. He lives by his example, does not judge others and shows Helen that, no matter what, "wrong shall not triumph." His "creed of love" is fulfilling for Helen and, even after his death, he continues to have a positive effect on her. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are Bishop Brook's characteristics in The Story of My Life and how do they relate to Helen Keller as a student?

Helen Keller's life is touched by so many people and things all of which contribute to her understanding and appreciation for life. Her enthusiasm for learning is unique and especially inspiring in view of her being blind and deaf from a young age. Helen surrounds herself with situations and learns from "life itself."

The Story of My Life is a tribute to all the people and things that have enriched her life and serves as a form of motivation for anyone for whom "Silence sits immense upon my soul " (Ch 22).  Even those who are "so empty of joy" (Ch 23) can find some measure of hope in her words.

Helen has many "friends" - "dog friends...tree friends...book friends" and so on and has met many "men of genius" (Ch23). Bishop Brook is one of Helen's inspirations throughout her life,in particular his dedication to a "universal God" and his ability to share his love unconditionally. " He never excludes anyone from his faith and , whether Helen chooses to accept his version of God is unimportant to him. As long as she knows that good has far more potential than evil she has  "the key to Heaven." It is this that Helen will carry throughout her life and she shall feel secure that "wrong shall not triumph."

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on