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The Story of My Life

by Helen Keller

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The Story of My Life: An Overview and Opinion

Summary:

The Story of My Life is an autobiography by Helen Keller, detailing her early years, the challenges of being both deaf and blind, and her remarkable achievements with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Keller's narrative is inspirational, showcasing her determination and resilience. It provides profound insights into overcoming adversity and the transformative power of education and perseverance.

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What is an overview of The Story of My Life?

Helen Keller's The Story of My Life is an incomplete autobiography as it only covers twenty-two years of her life (she lived to be nearly eighty-eight). Nevertheless, this inspirational story of Helen's challenges and successes as a deaf-blind person are graphically detailed as they illustrate the girl and young woman who possessed great intelligence and an amazing desire to learn and attain a sense of worth in society. Helen records her early memories before she was struck blind and deaf from fever at nineteen months and her fortunate meeting of Anne Sullivan, who lightened the darkness of Helen's mind by connecting the word water with the tangible substance. Further, Miss Sullivan provided the necessary links between Helen and those around her, as well as links with nature, not to mention providing Helen love and friendship and security away from her home. Friend and mentor, Anne Sullivan encouraged Helen's determination to learn as she instructed Helen through most of her life journeys, on which she met such notable persons as Alexander Graham Bell and several presidents of the United States.

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What is an overview of The Story of My Life?

The Story of My Life is an autobiography about Helen Keller who lost her sight and hearing after suffering an illness at 19 months of age. She had to reestablish her communication and feel every object around the house and use crude signs to facilitate her learning and communication. Her situation frustrated her at first, especially when she realized that other people communicated by talking while she had to use signs. The entry of her teacher and life-long companion, Anne Sullivan, helped the young girl surmount some of the challenges of her condition. Helen was mostly interested in the written word, which she eventually relied on mostly to express herself. She even achieved the major milestone of writing her books. Despite the challenges, Helen went on to become a social activist and participated in lecture tours accompanied by her teacher Sullivan.

The story shares her brief memories before she lost her sight and hearing and her life with the condition up until her college years, when she actually wrote the book. She went on to write other books and articles throughout her lifetime.

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What is an overview of The Story of My Life?

Helen Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life, covers her life from birth until her second year of college. In it, Helen explained her family background, how she lost her sight and hearing, and how she learned to communicate. She also detailed her education, travels, friends, and hobbies.

Helen Keller was born in Alabama in 1880. She was bright as a baby and young toddler. Shortly before her second birthday, she became extremely ill. She eventually recovered, but her illness caused her to be deaf and blind. For years, Helen lived in a silent world of darkness. She yearned to communicate, but she could not and became frustrated. Finally, her parents sought help. They arranged for a teacher to come help Helen. That teacher was Miss Sullivan. Miss Sullivan worked with determination to help Helen learn to communicate. Eventually, Helen had a breakthrough and learned the connection between words and objects. This was the beginning of Helen Keller's journey of lifelong learning.

Eventually, Helen went to school and then college. She traveled all over the country and to Canada. She made friends with many famous people, such as Alexander Graham Bell and Mark Twain. Helen enjoyed reading, being in nature, and sailing. At the end of the book, Helen credited her friends for making her life incredible:

Thus it is that my friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation (Chapter XXIII).

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What is your opinion of The Story of My Life?

Helen Keller's autobiography is a book that I read as a youth, and I was greatly moved by the courage, perserverance, and, above all, superior intellect of this woman who overcame the formidable challenges of her disabilities.  It gave me new insights, to say the least.

Now, in the last fifteen years, I have taught at a school for the blind where her photograph with Alexander Graham Bell is hung in the foyer near the principal's office, and her portraits are displayed throughout the library.  There, copies of The Story of My Life are in large print and in braille; many a student has read her work, and all have been touched by the poignancy of her history as well as inspired to try harder themselves.  Indubitably, Helen Keller's story is one that sighted as well as visually impaired can read for encouragement and inspiration. 

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