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The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller

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Key Incidents in "The Story of My Life"

Summary:

Key incidents in "The Story of My Life" include Helen Keller's early struggles with blindness and deafness, her breakthrough in communication with the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan, and her subsequent educational achievements. These milestones highlight her perseverance and the transformative impact of Sullivan's teaching.

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What are the key incidents in chapter 1 of "The Story of My Life"?

In Chapter 1, Keller offers a brief sketch of her family history and then moves into her own story. She recounts being born as a baby who could hear and see, until at 19 months an illness, which it was feared would kill her, left her deaf and blind.

In this first chapter, Keller recounts themes that will recur in the memoir: the love and safety provided by her mother, and the great divide Helen experienced between the time when she enjoyed life with all of her five senses and what she calls the "nightmare" of losing two of them.

Miss Sullivan, though not named, also is mentioned, the person Keller says "was to set my spirit free." This is a fitting, if fleeting, introduction to the woman who has the largest presence, after Helen, in this memoir. Keller also mentions her love of flowers, which she could smell and feel even after her illness, as well as her general love of nature. The chapter gives us a strong sense of her background and early life.

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What are the key incidents in chapter 1 of "The Story of My Life"?

Some important incidents in Chapter One of “The Story of my Life” are:

  • Before writing her autobiography, Helen is beset by a sort of fear at delving into her childhood. She discovers that most of her childhood is now colored differently as she looks at it through the lenses of a grown woman.
  • Helen Keller was born on the 27th day of June 1880, in Tuscumbia, Northern Alabama. Her father descended from the Swiss, Casper Keller a settler in Maryland. One of her Swiss ancestors was a teacher of the deaf. Her father, Arthur H. Keller, was a captain in the army. Her mother, Kate Adams, was her father’s second wife. Helen was named after her grandmother, Helen Everett. However, at church, her father quite forgot the second name “Everett”, and instead gave her the name Helen Adams.
  • Helen walked at the age of one year.
  • One spring, at about nineteen months, Helen suffered from an “acute congestion of the stomach and brain”. The disease left her both blind and deaf.
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What are the four main incidents in The Story of My Life?

The first major incident is Keller's illness when she is over a year old. This illness results in her losing her sight and hearing. For many years afterward, she struggles to communicate and in handling frustration. When she is almost seven years old, the second main incident occurs when Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, comes to work with her. Keller compares her life before her teacher arrives to the course of a ship immersed in fog and likens the arrival of Sullivan to the appearance of light. Keller eventually learns to read and speak under Sullivan's guidance. The third main incident is Keller's arrival in Boston in 1888, when Keller is about eight, to visit the Perkins Institution for the Blind. Keller meets other blind children and travels to the ocean. The final main incident is Keller's admission into Radcliffe College in 1900, after many years of preparation for the entrance examination. 

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What are the four main incidents in The Story of My Life?

Helen Keller detailed the events of her life from her birth to her early twenties in her autobiography, The Story of My Life.  She detailed many important events in her life.  The following are four very important ones:

- Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing when she was almost two years old.  She had what doctors called "acute congestion of the stomach and brain."  They thought that Helen might not live.  She did live, but the sickness caused her to become deaf and blind.

-  Annie Sullivan came to live with the Keller family.  She became Helen's teacher and her constant companion.  Miss Sullivan was a determined woman.  She did not give up on Helen.

-  After many attempts, Annie helped Helen to discover language.  Helen had a breakthrough moment when Miss Sullivan held her hand under a waterspout.  As the water poured over Helen's hand, Miss Sullivan spelled "w-a-t-e-r" into the girl's palm.  Helen made the connection that those letters meant the cool liquid.  After that, she began to learn how to communicate through fingerspelling.  Helen later said that the word "water" "awakened [her] soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!"

-  Miss Sullivan taught Helen how to communicate and learn.  Helen was able to go to school.  She attended school beginning in 1894.  Helen studied mathematics, literature, history, and many other subjects.  She learned to write using a special typewriter.  Helen also made attempts to learn how to speak.  Helen even went to college.

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