Black and white illustration of Helen Keller

The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Character analysis of Mildred Keller from The Story of My Life

Summary:

Mildred Keller, Helen Keller's younger sister, is depicted as a supportive and loving family member in The Story of My Life. Despite the challenges posed by Helen's disabilities, Mildred shows patience and understanding. Her presence in Helen's life highlights the importance of familial bonds and the role of a nurturing environment in Helen's journey toward education and communication.

Expert Answers

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

Provide a character sketch of Mildred Keller from The Story of My Life.

Mildred Keller is Helen's younger sister as explained in The Story of My Life. There is not a lot of information on Mildred in the autobiography but the reader does learn that, after an event when Helen tips Mildred out of a crib, the two sisters do grow "into each other's hearts"(ch 2). Helen is jealous of the attention that Mildred gets from her mother - attention that used to be directed to her. One day she notices that Mildred has been placed in a crib reserved for Helen's beloved doll, Nancy, and it is just as well that Helen's mother is on hand to avoid catastrophe.  

One year, whilst spending the summer at the family's cottage in Fern Quarry, Mildred tells Helen all about what she sees - the train tracks and cows straying on to them, and the trestle.  Helen and Mildred go walking in the woods with Miss Sullivan but unfortunately they get lost. It is Mildred who spots the trestle which allows them to find their way back but not before they are almost run over by a train. When they do return, the family is out looking for them as it is so late. 

A poignant moment for Helen when she realizes that she and Mildred will be able to communicate more effectively is when Helen learns to speak and no longer feels "dumb."The most important thing on Helen's mind is that "My little sister will understand me now."(ch 13) Helen's family are delighted at her achievement with Mildred taking Helen's hand and dancing.  

When Helen goes to The Cambridge School, Mildred also attends and the sisters are inseparable "for six happy months "(ch 18) although they are eventually withdrawn from the school after a disagreement between the school and Helen's parents. 

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

Who was Mildred Keller in The Story of My Life?

Mildred was Helen Keller's younger sister, born when Helen was five. As most older siblings do, Helen regarded the newcomer as an "intruder." Mildred was, to Helen's mind, competition for her mother's affection.

Helen, at first, felt that Mildred was her mother's "only darling." Helen was jealous that Mildred seemed to forever be taking the place that Helen regarded as her own on her mother's lap. At one point, when Helen found the baby in her doll's cradle, she overturned the cradle in a fit of rage that might have killed Mildred if her mother had not managed to catch the baby.

But, also like most children, Helen adjusted to her new sibling and made the best of the situation. The two became friends and went around together, though they couldn't understand each other.

Later, after Miss Sullivan arrival, Mildred learned manual writing so that she could communicate with her sister. Mildred sometimes accompanied Miss Sullivan and Helen when they went out. In one exciting story, she saved them from a speeding train.

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

Who was Mildred Keller in The Story of My Life?

Mildred Keller was the younger sister of Helen Keller.  She was several years younger.  When Mildred was a baby, Helen had a treasured doll.  She often rocked this doll in a cradle.  One day, Helen found her infant sister in the cradle instead of her doll.  She became angry and flipped the cradle over.  Fortunately, Helen's mother was nearby and caught the baby before she fell.  

Later, when Helen was older, she and Mildred would go out into the woods and gather persimmons and nuts.  They also liked to explore and even got lost in the woods.  Years later, when Helen was at Cambridge, Mildred came to the school as well.  For six months, they attended school together.  

Helen explained that despite her early jealousy, she and Mildred "grew into each other's hearts."

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