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The Story of My Life By Helen Keller Summary Class 10th CBSE

The Story of My Life – Helen Keller




INTRODUCTIONThe Story of My Life By Helen Keller Summary Class 10th

Helen Keller overcame the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of deafness and blindness to become an influential lecturer and social activist. Keller has become, in American culture, an icon of perseverance, respected and honored by readers, historians, and activists. Her autobiography The Story of My Life, published in the United States in 1903, is still read today for its ability to motivate and reassure readers. In her time, Keller was a celebrity and the publication to her autobiography was met with enthusiasm. The book was generally well received, and Keller later wrote a follow-up called Midstream, My Later Life in which she tells what happened in the twenty-five years after the publication of The Story of My Life.
Keller began working on The Story of My Life while she was a student at Radcliffe College, and it was first published in installments in Ladies’ Home Journal. Helping her was an editor and Harvard professor named John Albert Macy, who later married Keller’s first teacher and lifelong companion, Anne Sullivan. In the book Keller recounts the first twenty-two years of her life, from the events of the illness in her early childhood that left her blind and deaf through her second year at Radcliffe College. Prominent historical figures wander among the pages of The Story of My Life—She meets Alexander Graham Bell when she is only six and remains friends with him for years; she visits the acclaimed American poet John Greenleaf Whittier; and she exchanges correspondence with people like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Mrs. Grover Cleveland.

 SUMMARY

I. Early Childhood: Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, a little town of Alabama in the United States of America. Her family originated in Switzerland. Her grandfather bought large tracts of land in Alabama and finally settled there. Her father, Arthur H. Keller, had been a captain in the Confederate Army. She was born in a tiny house near the homestead. It was completely covered with vines, climbing roses and honeysuckles. It was the favourite haunt of humming birds and insects. The old fashioned garden of “Ivy green” was the paradise of her childhood. The beginning of her life was very simple. The day she started walking, she was one year old. Those happy days did not last long. Then came the illness which closed her eyes and ears.
II. Illness that closed Keller’s Eyes and Ears: It was a mysterious disease. They called it acute congestion of the stomach and brain. The doctor thought that she would not live. The fever left her as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come. But the rejoice was short-lived. No one, not even the doctor knew that she would never see or hear again. Except for some fleeting memories, all seemed very unreal and like a nightmare. Her hands felt every object and observed every motion. She felt the need of some communication with others and began to make crude signs. A shake of head meant “No” and a nod meant “Yes”. A pull meant “come” and a push meant “go”. In those days, Martha Washington, the child of her cook was her constant companion. She understood her signs better than the others. Her desire to express herself grew. Her failure to make herself understood through limited signs upset her. Her parents were deeply grieved and upset. It was very difficult to teach a deaf and blind child. Her mother’s only hope came from Dickens’s “American Notes”. She had read his account of Laura Bridgman who had been educated inspite of being a deaf and blind child. This led them to meet Dr. Alexander Graham Bell who advised Keller’s father to contact Mr. Anagnos, Director of the Perkins Institute in Boston. Within a week came a kind letter from Mr. Anagnos. He gave assurance that a teacher had been found for Helen Keller.
III. Advent of Miss Anne Sullivan: The arrival of Anne Mansfield Sullivan was the most important day in Keller’s life. It was the third of March, 1886, three months before she was seven years old. She stood on the porch dumb and expectant. She was like a ship in a dense fog at sea. “Light! give me light!” was the wordless cry of her soul. And the light of love shone on her in that very hour. Miss Sullivan held her close in her arms and gave her a doll presented by the blind children at the Perkins Institute. She slowly spelled into her hand the word “d-o-l-l”. Helen was at once got interested in her finger play and tried to imitate it. In the days that followed she learned to spell words like “pin”, “hat”, “cup” and a few verbs like “sit”, “stand” and “walk”. Gradually she understood that everything had a name and each name gave birth to a new thought.
IV. Learning to Read—A Slow and Often a Painful Process: Children who can hear can acquire language easily without any particular effort. But for a little deaf and blind child, it was a very slow and painful process. Once Miss Sullivan touched her forehead and spelled with decided emphasis, “Think”. In a flash, she knew that the word was the name of the process that was going on in her head. After she learnt to spell a few words, Miss Sullivan gave her slips of carboard on which printed words in raised letters were written. She could arrange the words in little sentences. For example, “doll”, “is”, “on”, “bed”. It was her teacher’s genius and her loving tact which made the first years of her education so beautiful.
V. Learned to Speak: It was in the spring of 1890 that Helen Keller learned to speak. The impulse to utter audible sounds had always been very strong in her. She had known for a long time that people about her used a different method of communication from her. In 1890, Mrs. Lamson who had taught a deaf and blind child to speak in Norway came to see her. Then Miss Sullivan took her to Miss Sarah Fuller for advice and assistance. She offered to teach her. Her method was simple. She pressed her hand lightly over her face, and let her feel the position of her tongue and lips when she made a sound. Miss Fuller gave her eleven lessons in all. Helen Keller uttered her first connected sentence, “It is warm”. They were broken and stammering syllables but they were parts of human speech.
VI. Charge of Plagiarism: In the winter of 1892, Helen Keller wrote a little story called ‘The Frost King’ and sent to Mr. Anagnos of the Perkins Institute for the Blind. When the story was finished, she read it to her teacher. At dinner, it was read to the assembled family. Mr. Anagnos was delighted with “The Frost King” and published it in one of the reports of Perkins Institute. Later on it was discovered that a story similar to ‘The Frost King’ called ‘The Frost Fairies’ by Miss Margaret Canby had appeared even before she was born. The two stories were so much alike in thought and language. It was evident that Miss Canby’s story had been read to Helen. Her story was – a plagiarism. Mr. Anagnos suspected that Miss Sullivan and Helen had deliberately stolen the bright idea of another. The matter was brought before a court of investigation. Helen Keller was questioned and cross-questioned.
VII. Visits to Niagara and the World’s Fair: In March, 1893 they went to Niagara. It was difficult to describe Helen Keller’s emotion when she stood on the point which overhangs the American Falls. She felt the air vibrate and the earth tremble. Many people were surprised. They asked how she should be impressed by the wonders and beauties of Niagara. But Helen could fathom the beauty and music of Niagara as she could fathom or define love or religion or goodness. During the summer of 1893, Miss Sullivan and Helen Keller visited the World’s Fair with Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. There she could see the marvels of invention, industry and all the activities of human life actually passed under her finger tips. The President of the World’s Fair gave her the permission to touch the exhibits.
VIII. Preparation for Radcliffe College: Even when Helen was a child, she surprised her friends by declaring that she would go to Harvard. The thought of going to college became an earnest desire. She entered the Cambridge School to prepare for Radcliffe. She had a good start in English and French but suffered serious drawbacks to her progress. It was very difficult to have textbooks embossed in time. Each day Miss Sullivan went to the classes with her and spelled into her hand with infinite patience all that the teachers said. She took her preliminary examinations for Radcliffe in July 1897. She passed in everything and received “honours” in German and English. She began her second year at the Gilman School. She was full of hope and determination to succeed. Her preparation for college went on without interruption. She took her final examinations in June 1899 for Radcliffe College. At last, her struggle for admission to college ended but she entered Radcliffe only in the fall of 1900.
IX. Reading: A Pleasure for Helen Keller: Helen had a passion for reading. She depended on books for pleasure and wisdom. She read her first story in 1887 when she was just seven years old. At first she had only a few books in raised print. She read “Our World”. Sometimes Miss Sullivan read to her spelling into her hand little stories and poems. The fascinating child’s story “Little Lord Fauntleroy” was his favourite. During the next few years she read “Greek Heroes, ‘Fables’, ‘Bible Stories’”, Tales from Shakespeare’, ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Heidi’. ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Wild Animals’ also attracted her. She preferred Homer to Virgil. In German she liked Goethe’s ‘Faust’ and in French she admired Moliere and Racine best.
X. Pleasures and Amusements: Reading was not her only pleasure. Helen Keller’s amusements and pleasures were many and varied. She had love for the country and out-of-door sports. She learned to row and swim when she was just a child. She enjoyed canoeing on moon light nights. Sailing was her favourite amusement. Having leisurely walks in the countryside thrilled her. She had a subconscious memory of the green earth and murmuring waters. Blindness and deafness did not rob her of this gift. She had a soul sense which sees, hears, feels, all in one. Cycling was also one of her favourite pastimes. She loved the company of her dogs. During the rainy days, she amused herself indoors and liked to knit and crochet. She loved to frolic with children. Museums and art stores were also sources of pleasure and inspiration for her. Going to the theatre was a rare pleasure to her.
XI. Men who Shaped and Influenced Helen Keller’s Life: Helen Keller showed her gratitude to her friends, acquaintances and people who helped in shaping and moulding her life. No doubt, the everlasting influence on her was of her teacher Miss Sullivan. She gave a new meaning, direction and purpose to her life. Bishop Brooks impressed upon her mind two great ideas–the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Dr. Edward Hale was one of her very oldest friends. She had known him since she was eight. He had taught love for the country and kindness to the poor. Dr. Graham Bell had the art of making every subject he touched interesting. He impressed Helen Keller by his humour and poetic side. Bell’s dominating passion was his love for children. He was never so happy as and when he had a little deaf child in his arms. In New York she met Mr and Mrs. Laurance Hutton. They introduced Helen to many of their literary friends like Howells and Mark Twain. Mark Twain had his own way of thinking, saying and doing everything. All these friends, acquaintances and great figures made the story of her life and turned her limitations into beautiful privileges and opportunities.





Question 1
What were the qualities that attracted everyone towards Helen before she fell victim to her mysterious ill¬ness ? Give your views. (Board Term-I 2014, Set PRE2N18)
Answer:
Value Points:
  • bright and happy child
  • eager, self-asserting disposition
  • as the first baby, she came, she saw, she conquered
  • imitated everything others did-actions and words
  • attracted everyone’s attention (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2014)
Detailed Answer:
Helen was a very bright and happy child. She attracted everyone’s attention towards her with her mischiefs.
In her childhood, she was an eager and self-asserting child. She imitated everyone and leamt walking as well as talking at an early age. She was the first baby in her family so she received the love and affection of her family members to the maximum. Helen herself wrote 1 came, I saw, I conquered’ as the first baby in the family
does. She started walking when she was a year old. Her mother had just taken her out of the bath-tub and was holding her in her lap when she started walking towards the leaves that danced in the sunlight. Even her naming ceremony was a big event. She was not to be lightly named being the first baby in the family. She initiated every one and learnt talking at an early age. Everyone got attracted towards her due to these qualities.
Question 2.
Why did Helen call her pony ‘Black Beauty’ ?(Board 2014, Set QUD9VQW)
Answer:
Value Points:
  • had a black glossy coat and a white star on his forehead
  • had read the book of the same name
  • her pony resembled his name sake. (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2014)
Detailed Answer:
Helen had her pony at Fern Quarry. She called him Black Beauty as she had read the book in which there was a black horse. Helen’s horse resembled his name-sake. He had a black glossy coat and a white star on his forehead. Helen spent many of her happiest hours on Black Beauty’s back. Sometimes, her teacher Miss Sullivan would let go of the horses’ rein and the pony used to stop at his sweet will to eat grass or nibble the leaves of the trees. Helen loved her pony very much.
Question 3
Helen Keller says, “Happy days did not last long.” Why does she say this ? What had happened to her ?
Answer:
Value Points:
  • acute congestion of the stomach and brain
  • doctors thought she would not live
  • fever was over, but she was blind and deaf for life
  • light became dimmer by the day
  • she got used to the silence and darkness (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2013)
Detailed Answer:
Helen was an eager and assertive child during her childhood. The beginning of her life was simple and much like every other little life. She received all the privileges as the first baby in the family does. She was having a wonderful time as a baby but ‘happy days did not last long’. In the month of February, she fell ill. The doctors called it ‘acute congestion of the stomach and brain’. They thought she would not live. However, one day the fever left her as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come. Everyone rejoiced on her being well. After getting well, she could feel her eyes turning dry and hot. Gradually, the light became dimmer by the day. It was like a nightmare as she turned blind and deaf for life. Not even the doctors realised that she would never see or hear again. It was terrible but with the passage of time she got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded her and forgot that life had, at some stage, been different and wonderful.
Question 4
Describe Helen’s relationship with her sister Mildred. (Board Term-12013, Set 5007)
Answer.
Value Points:
  • Mildred Keller – Helen’s younger sister
  • Initial jealousy, later became close to her
  • While at Fern Quarry – went to gather persimmons with her.
  • Got lost in woods
  • Mildred alert – observed trestle-short cut home.
  • Suddenly saw train – Luckily they climbed down in time (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2013)
Detailed Answer:
Helen had a younger sister called Mildred. Before her birth, Helen was the darling daughter of her parents. But with the arrival of Mildred, she had ceased to be so. With the result she started treating Mildred as an intruder. The thought of Mildred receiving more love from her mother filled Helen with jealousy. Mildred took her place in her mother’s lap and took all the care and time of her mother which was not acceptable to Helen. Her jealousy reached its height when Helen saw Mildred sleeping peacefully in her doll’s cradle. She got angry and showed her anger by overturning the cradle. It was only her mother’s timely intervention that saved her from falling. With the passage of time, this jealousy turned into an affectionate relationship. The signs of bonding could be seen very clearly. Mildred could not understand her sign language yet an understanding and love grew between both of them. The affection grew into their hearts and they went hand in hand wherever they went.
Question 5
‘The best and most beautiful things in the world can’t be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.’ Justify the famous quote of Helen Keller.
Answer:
This quote is very relevant and truly signifies the life of Helen Keller herself. This quote holds true for everything that we experience in life. It is the feeling towards what we experience in life that is more important than what we actually see or touch.
Hellen Keller had lost her sight and hearing at a very tender age to an illness. She did not give up on life.
With all the adversities surrounding her, she still fought back with the courage and the love of the people who surrounded her and supported her throughout. It is these feelings of love, courage, hope, satisfaction, happiness, desire, pain, ambition, etc., which makes a person what they are. In fact. Hellen learns the beauty of love not by seeing or touching but by feeling it. Her life itself stands testimony to this statement ‘The best and most beautiful , things in the world can’t be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.’
Question 6
“Helen had a great strength and courage which helped her come out of her dark and silent world.” Justify.
Answer:
Helen was a great woman who lost her sight and hearing when she was a child. The beautiful bright world became dark and dull. It took her some time to realize that she was different from others as she felt that others did not communicate like her. There was movement of their lips when they communicated. At first she became impatient. She threw tantrums at times but gradually realized that there was another way to come out of the dark and silent world. It was to be done with the help of her feelings of the heart and touch. Miss Anne Sullivan, her teacher, helped her a lot in adjusting to the new dark world.
She taught her everything-right from words to sentences. Miss Sullivan, sometimes, had to face problems while teaching the abstract nouns like ‘love’ but with her patience, she handled Helen and made her learn such words. Once Helen had gone swimming when she was at Brewstar. She was enjoying the feel of water when suddenly her foot struck against a rock and she felt hereself drowning. All her efforts to save herself went in vain. But somehow, the water threw her back on the shore and she was saved. She took some time to recover and then again went to sit on a big rock and feel the ocean water.This incident didn’t deter her. In another instance, she had almost jumped down a big tree when there was heavy , rain and she got terrified. She took some time to gather her courage and she climbed another tree. Thus, we can say that she had a great strength and courage which helped her come out of her dark and silent world.
Question 7
What type of relationship did Miss Anne Sullivan and Helen share ? ,
Answer:
After the illness which left Helen deaf and blind, her parents went to meet Dr. Chisholen, an eye, ear, nose, throat
specialist in Baltimore. He put them in touch with Alexander Graham Bell who worked with deaf children.
Bell advised them to contact Perkins Institute for the Blind. This institution sent Miss Anne Sullivan as Helen’s instructor. The eventful day, on which Miss Sullivan was to arrive, Helen felt that something unusual was going to happen. She had no idea that the future had a surprise for her. Miss Sullivan arrived and filled Helen’s life with brightness. Both of them shared a wonderful relationship. Miss Sullivan was like a mother to her. She taught her the spellings of words by writing them on her hand like doll. Later she taught her abstract words like love, water, think etc. Once she improved her vocabulary, Miss Sullivan taught Helen how to use the words in sentences, thus gradually increasing her knowledge. She accompanied Helen everywhere and Helen also looked towards her whenever she wanted to know about something, their relationship lasted for 49 years and eventually Miss Sullivan became a companion to Helen from a mere governess.
Question 8.
Helen had a great love for animals and birds. Elucidate with the help of examples.
Answer:
Helen was a great lover of nature. She was surprised at what mother earth had in store for everyone. Birds and animals were always a source of interest for her. She used to hunt for guinea-fowl’s eggs in the long grass when she was a child but never allowed her friend Martha to carry the eggs home, for the fear that she might break them. In another incident, she was gifted little Tim, a canary as a Christmas gift by Tuscumbia School children.
Miss Sullivan taught her how to take care of her new pet. She prepared his bath, made his cage clean and sweet, filled his cups with fresh seed and water from the well house and hung a spray of duckweed in his swing. She used to feed him candied cherries out of her hand but felt very sad when the bird fell prey to a cat after its cage was left on a window sill. During her stay at Brewstar, Miss Sullivan attracted her attention towards a great horseshoe crab. She felt it and thought it strange that he carried his house on his back. Suddenly, she wanted to have him as her pet. She seized him by the tail with both hands and carried him home. His body was very heavy but somehow she dragged him and with the help of Miss Sullivan, put him in a trough near the well to keep him secure. But the next morning she found him missing. At first she felt disappointed but later felt happy that perhaps he had returned to the sea to which he belonged.
Question 9.
How did Helen learn subjects like Geography, History and Science ?
Answer:
Helen had a different way of learning subjects like Geography, History, etc. She went with Miss Sullivan to an old tumble-down lumber wharf on the Tennessee River which was used during the Civil War to land soldiers.
She built dams of pebbles, made islands and lakes, dug river-beds all for fun, never realising that she was learning a lesson. She listened to Miss Sullivan’s descriptions of burning mountains, buried cities, moving rivers of ice, etc. She made raised maps on clay so that she could feel the mountain ridges and valley and follow the course of river with her fingers.
She learnt Arithmetic by stringing beads in groups and by arranging kindgarten straws, she learned to add and subtract. She did not have much patience to arrange more than five or six groups at a time.
She studied Zoology and Botany also in a leisurely manner. She listened carefully to the description of terrible beasts which tramped the forests and died in the swamps of an unknown age.
The growth of a plant itself taught her a lesson in science. She bought a lily and set it in a sunny window. Very soon she noticed the signs of opening in the pointed buds. This process was reluctant in the beginning but later on used to go on rapidiy-in order and systematically. There was always one bud larger and more beautiful than the rest which pushed her outer covering with more pomp. In a way she learned from life itself.
Very Long Questions Based on Characterization(150 – 200 words & 10 marks each)
Question 1.
Helen was very close to nature. She could understand nature through touch and smell. Discuss the role of nature in Helen’s life. (Board 2014)
Answer:
Value Points:
  • Father developed her interest in nature – furthered by Miss Sullivan
  • Miss Sullivan taught her out doors mostly – in the lap of nature
  • The climbing.incident – scare – learnt of her benevolence and dangerous side of nature,
  • Swimming in the ocean – scared – but didn’t prevent her from going into water again.
  • Found her way around by the fragrance of plants and trees.
  • Studied Botany, Zoology, Geography, History through nature. (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2014)
Detailed Answer:
Helen’s father was very affectionate towards her, It was he who developed her interest in nature. He used to take her out in the gardens where he read stories to her. Her house was covered with vines, climbing roses and honeysuckles and it was the favourite haunt of honeybees and humming birds. Helen considered it as the paradise of her childhood. Miss Sullivan also played an important role in Helen’s love towards nature. She always taught her outdoor in the lap of nature. She leamt all the subjects like zoology, botany, geography, etc. outdoors. Miss Sullivan took her to rivers, built dams of pebbles, dug river-beds to teach her. She learnt the growth of a plant by actually feeling its growth day-by-day in order and systematically. Once Miss Sullivan took her outdoors. While returning back, she was caught in a storm. She was terrified as Miss Sullivan had gone home to bring food. At that moment, she realized that nature could be benevolent as well as dangerous. Despite her disability, she leamt swimming. She had a bad experience in the ocean as well but that did not deter her from learning to swim. Her experiences with nature made her come out as a woman who could move ahead on the path of life with full confidence.
Question 2.
Write a character sketch of Anne Sullivan. (NCT 2014) (Board Term-I 2013, Set 101)
Answer:
Miss Anne Sullivan was Helen’s instructor as well as a teacher. She was sent by the Perkins Institution in Boston to teach Helen. They foupd her competent enough to begin Helen’s education and Anne arrived at Helen’s place in March.
After her arrival, Helen’s life changed. Apart from being a guide and instructor she was like a mother to Helen. She accompanied her wherever she went.
Miss Sullivan had great patience. Sometimes Helen used to throw tantrums but Miss Sullivan always handled her very well. She taught her to communicate by writing the spellings of the words on her hand with her fingers. Helen leamt this art and was able to communicate with others in an effective way when she leamt to write sentences also.
Miss Sullivan was a perfect teacher who enjoyed spending her time with Helen. She taught her subjects like Arithmetic, History, Geography, Zoology, Botany, etc., through a playful method. Helen never realised that she was being educated during the process of learning. She enjoyed all the lessons with Miss Sullivan.
Both Helen and Miss Sullivan had a good time with each other throughout their lives.
Question 3.
Write a character sketch of Mildred Keller. (Board Term-I 2013, Set 101)
Or
“Mildred was an alert and observant child.” Comment with reference to the train incident at Fern Quarry. (Board Term-I 2007, Set 5007)
Answer:
Value Points:
  • Regarded her as an intruder initially.
  • Jealous of her – she ceased to be mother’s only darling.
  • Discovered Mildred sleeping in her doll’s cradle – overturned it – Luckily mother caught her in time.
  • Later signs of bonding
  • Couldn’t understand her not could she understand finger language. Yet grew in understanding and love. (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2013)
Detailed Answer:
Mildred Keller was Helen’s younger sister. Before she was born Helen used to get all the attention of her parents but with Mildred’s birth, things changed a bit and Helen became jealous of her but at later stages both of them
became very close to each other. Mildred was an alert and observant child. Once they were at fern Quarry. They went out to gather persimmons and got lost in woods. It started getting dark but they were unable to find their way back home. On the way, Mildred observed a trestle and realised that it was a short cut to their home. So, ’ they all started walking on that path. Suddenly, she saw a train moving towards them. She alerted Helen and both of them were lucky enough to climb down in time. The train zoomed past time. It was only Mildred’s alertness which averted something horrible.
Question 4.
Draw up a character sketch of Martha Washington.(Board Term-12013, Set 8SRR)
Answer:
Value Points:
  • Martha was the child of the cook
  • She was a coloured girl and Helen’s constant companion
  • She could understand Helen’s signs
  • Helen dominated her
  • Martha had a great love mischief. (CBSE Marking Scheme, 2013)
Detailed Answer:
Martha Washington was the daughter of the cook who helped Helen Keller’s mother. She was a coloured girl. Since both of them were of the same age group, they could always be seen together. In other words she was Helen’s constant companion. Though she was a child, yet she could very well understand Helen’s sign language whenever Helen went out to play, Martha was always by her side. But Helen always dominated her. Martha had a great love for mischief. She used to go egg-hunting for the guinea- fowl eggs in the long grass with Helen. Martha used to spend a lot of time with Helen in the kitchen kneading dough balls, helping make ice-cream, grinding coffee, quarrelling over the cake-bowl and not to forget, feeding the hens and turkeys that swarmed about the kitchen steps. The sheds for storing com and stables were sources of interest to Martha. In fact she was a mischievous girl who submitted to Helen’s mischiefs most of the time.
Question 5.
Write a pen-portrait of Helen Keller.
Answer:
Helen Keller was a great woman who was bom on June 27,1880 in Tuscumbia, a little town of northern Alabama. When she was still a child, she fell ill and lost her sight as well as hearing. The world outside became dark and silent. Initially, she used to have fits of temper when she realized she was different from others but gradually adjusted herself in a positive way to the life which fate had chosen for her. Her teacher, Miss Anne Sullivan helped her a lot in this. Her relationship with Miss Sullivan was long-lasting and she never moved out without her. She taught Helen to communicate with others through words and later sentences.
Helen had a great respect for physical bravery. She had a sportsman spirit and never felt defeated. She loved nature and wanted to be with the trees, animals, birds, flower, bushes, etc. Despite her physical disabilities, she learnt how to climb trees, swimming, etc. She enjoyed the snowfall at Boston.
Helen was a girl who liked the company of others. She never felt shy. She used to greet the guests when they visited her parents. She went to celebrate Christmas with Tuscumbia school children and exchanged gifts with them.
She loved fragrances. Whenever she was free, she used to go out into the orchards and gardens to enjoy the fragrances of persimmons, lilies, jasmines, ripe peaches, etc. Her description of her various experiences were very vivid and clear.



QUESTIONS ON THEME AND PLOT

Q1. Evaluate Helen Keller’s ‘The Story of My Life’ as an autobiography, describing the struggles and achievements of her life.
Ans. Helen Keller’s famous autobiography ‘The Story of My Life’ explores the challenges she faced as a deaf and dumb child and her struggles of communicating with the world. The autobiography was dedicated to Alexander Graham Bell. He had taken a personal interest in Helen’s blindness and deafness. Helen Keller also shows her gratitude to her wonderful teacher Miss Sullivan. Helen Keller was born on a plantation in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880 to Captain Keller. She contracted an illness which left her deaf and blind. By the age of seven, Helen had over sixty home signs to communicate with her family. In 1886, Helen Keller’s mother sent her to Dr. Chisolm and Graham Bell. Bell advised her parents to contact Perkins Institute for the Blind. The advent of Miss Sullivan was the most important event in her life. Anne Sullivan arrived in Keller’s house in March, 1887. She immediately began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand. Gradually, she learnt from Miss Sullivan the names of all the familiar objects in her world. The autobiography describes graphically Helen’s herculean efforts to get an education. She entered The Cambridge School for Young Ladies before gaining admittance to Radcliffe College in 1990. She graduated from Radcliffe at the age of 24, in 1904. She was the first person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. One of Keller’s earliest pieces of writing was ‘The Frost King’ (1891) at the age of eleven. There were allegations that the story had been plagiarised from Margaret Canby’s ‘The Frost Fairies’. At the age of 22, Keller published ‘The Story of My Life (1903), written during her time in college. Keller depended on books for pleasure and wisdom. She started with ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’. She went on to read ‘‘Greek Heroes’’, La Fontaine’s ‘‘Fables’’, Howthorne’s ‘‘Wonder Book’’, ‘‘Bible Stories’’, Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, ‘‘The Arabian Nights’’ and ‘‘Robinson Crusoe. In ‘The Story of My Life’ Helen also writes about her pleasures and amusements. Swimming, rowing, canoeing on moonlight nights and sailing were her favourite amusements. Helen Keller had a sixth sense – ‘a soul sense’ which could see, hear, feel all in one. She loved to visit museums and art stores. Music and theatre thrilled her. In the end, the autobiography describes the important persons whom she valued more than anything else in life. They were Bishop Brooks, Henry Drummond, Dr. Everett Hale, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, Mrs. Hutton, Dean  Howell’s and of course, Mark Twain. These were the persons and friends who had made the story of her life. They turned her limitations into beautiful privileges and achievements.
Q2. Describe the theme of Helen Keller’s ‘The Story of My Life’.
Ans. ‘The Story of My Life’ is based on the value of perseverance. It also glorifies the tireless and undying spirit of overcoming insurmounting  hurdles and obstacles in life. Due to sheer perseverance, a deaf and dumb child Helen Keller learnt to communicate and interact with the outerward in a meaningful way. There is no doubt that at moments she felt helpless and frustrated but Helen was determined to succeed. She was a wonderful fighter. Helen Keller overcame the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and blindness. She became an icon of perseverance and untiring struggle throughout the world. The autobiography ‘The Story of My Life’ was written when she was only 22 years old. Her autobiography ‘The Story of My Life’ still motivates and guides thousands of those unfortunate blind and deaf children for whom there is only darkness and silence in the world. She lived in her isolated world until Miss Sullivan came to open up a world of communication to her. Anne taught her manual sign language, braille and lip-reading. Helen’s achievements are awesome. She had a thirst for knowledge and her love for learning and books was intense. It is quite amazing how she could lead a productive and purposeful life with all her handicaps. Another important theme of the autobiography is the message that even the blind and the deaf can lead a wholesome, purposeful and exciting life. Helen Keller set an example for all the physically challenged, especially the deaf and the dumb. She became the first blind and deaf to earn a bachelor degree. She enjoyed reading Shakespeare, Dickens and had good grounding in Greek and Latin. She read almost all the leading French and German writers. She loved swimming, sailing, canoeing, visiting mountains and beaches. She had an inner eye that could feel the beautiful sights, sounds, inner and smells of Nature. She loved the company of the famous and great personalities of her times such as Alexander Graham Bell and Mark Twain.
Q3. Describe the plot or the structure of Helen Keller’s ‘The Story of My Life’.
Ans.Helen Keller’s ‘The Story of My Life’ was published in 1903 when she was at the age of twenty two. It includes the story of her life and was written during her time in Redcliffe College. The story of Keller’s ability to communicate despite of her insurmountable handicaps immediately fascinate people. Her story gives us an idea of what it means to be both deaf and blind. She faces extraordinary difficulties, limitations and handicaps with courage and grace. The plot or the storyline of ‘The Story of My Life’ covers only her childhood and young womanhood. The story of Helen Keller’s life is incomplete as she had more than sixty years yet to live. Her story serves as a model for what the physically disabled can accomplish. The storyline starts with the mysterious illness that left her deaf and dumb when she was just one and a half years old. The advent of Miss Sullivan changed the very course of her life. The first five chapters describe how Miss Sullivan taught her words by spelling them into her hands. In this way, she learnt words like ‘‘d-o-l-l’’, ‘‘s-i-t’’, ‘‘p-i-n’’, ‘‘h-a-t’’, ‘‘c-u-p’’, etc. The next important step in her education was learning to read. She learnt to speak in 1890. The winter of 1890 was darkened by the charge of plagiarism against her for writing ‘The Frost King’.Chapters XVI to XXI describe Helen’s struggle to read various subjects and languages and to get an education. She became the first deaf and blind to earn a university degree.
‘The Story of My Life’ devotes Chapter XXII to describe Helen’s pleasures and amusements. Swimming, rowing, canoeing, sailing were her thrilling pastimes. Blindness and deafness couldn’t rob her of her sixth sense—a soul sense which would see, hear, feel, all in one. The last chapter XXIII is devoted to great men of letters and friends like Bishop Brooks, Dr. Hale, Dr. Graham Bell, Mr. & Mrs. Hutton and of course, Mark Twain. They made the story of Helen’s life and transcended her limitations to new privileges and opportunities.
Q4. Describe Helen Keller’s early life before the advent of her teacher Miss Sullivan.
Ans. Helen Keller was born on a plantation in Tuscumbia, Alabama on June 27, 1880 to Captain Arthur Keller. Her father was a former officer of the Confederate Army. Helen was the first baby in the family. The happy days didn’t last long. In the month of February came the illness that closed her eyes and ears. Except for some fleeting memories, all seemed like a nightmare. But during the first nineteen months of her life she had caught faint glimpses of green fields, sky, trees and flowers. The darkness that followed could not wholly blot them out. Her hands started feeling every object and observed every motion. She started making crude signs to communicate with others. A shake of head meant ‘‘No’’ and a nod, meant ‘‘Yes’’. A push meant ‘‘Go’’ and a pull meant ‘‘Come’’. At five, she learned and understood a good deal of what was going on about her. She could fold her clothes  and wear them. She began to realise that she was different from other people. Her mother and friends didn’t use signs as she did but talked with their mouths. In those days, a little coloured girl, Martha, the daughter of her cook understood her signs. They spent a great deal of time kneading dough balls and feeding the hens and turkeys. Belle, her dog was her other companion. The family consisted of her father and mother, two older half-brothers, and afterwards, a little sister, Mildred. For a long time she regarded her sister an intruder as she had ceased to be her mother’s only darling.
Helen’s desire to express herself grew. Her failures to make herself understood was followed by outbursts of passion. Her mother’s only ray of hope came from Dickens’s ‘‘American Notes’’. She had read an account of Laura Bridgman who had been educated instead of being deaf and blind. At the age of six, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell advised her father to contact Mr. Anagnos, the director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston. Within a few weeks Mr. Anagnos gave a comforting assurance that a teacher, Miss Sullivan had been found to teach Helen. Naturally, the most important day in all her life was the one on which her teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan came. It was the third of March, 1887. And ‘the light of love shone’ on her in that very hour.
Q5. How was the advent of Anne Mansfield Sullivan, the most important day in her life? Describe the ‘immeasurable contrasts’ between the two lives which it connects’. How did Helen Keller react at her first meeting with Miss Sullivan?
Ans. Certainly, the advent of Anne Mansfield Sullivan was the most important day in Helen Keller’s life. Helen was filled with wonder when she considered the immeasurable contrasts before and after her arrival in her life. On that day she stood on the porch, dumb and expectant. She was like a ship at sea in a dense fog before her education began. ‘‘Light, give me light !’’ was the wordless cry of her soul. And the light of love shone on her in that very hour. She felt approaching footsteps and stretched out her hand. She was caught up and held close in the arms of her teacher. She had come to reveal the light of knowledge and above all, to love her.
Miss Sullivan gave her a doll sent by the little blind children at Perkins Institute. She spelled into her hand the word ‘‘d-o-l-l’’. Helen was at once interested in the finger play and tried to imitate it. When she was able to spell the words correctly, she was filled with childish pride and pleasure. In the days that followed she learnt to spell ‘pin’, ‘hat’, ‘cup’ and a few verbs like ‘sit’, ‘stand’ and ‘walk’. She understood that everything had a name. Gradually she came to know that a wordless sensation was called a ‘thought’. Somehow the mystery of language was revealed to her. She knew that ‘‘w-a-t-e-r’’ meant something cool that was flowing over her hand. The living word ‘awakened’ her soul. Each name gave birth to a thought. Helen learned a great many new words that day. These words made the world blossom for her, ‘like Aaron’s rod, with flowers.’’ For the first time Helen longed for a new day to come.
Q6. Describe the ‘slow and often painful process’ through which the deaf and blind child Helen Keller acquired the ‘key to all language’? How did she learn to spell and read words?
Ans.  It was really ‘a slow and often painful process’ through which the deaf and blind child Helen Keller acquired the key to ‘all language’. Children who can hear can acquire language without any special effort. The first word that her teacher, Miss Sullivan spelled into her hand was ‘‘d-o-l-l’’. In the days that followed she learned to spell many words like ‘‘pin’’, ‘‘hat’’, ‘‘cup’’ and a few verbs like ‘‘sit’’, ‘‘stand’’ and ‘‘walk’’. At that time she even didn’t know that everything has a name. Then she realised that a wordless sensation was called a ‘thought’. She understood that everything had a name and each name gave birth to a new thought. Miss Sullivan had taught her to find beauty in the fragrant woods and in every blade of grass. She linked Helen’s earliest thought with nature. She made her feel that ‘birds and flowers’ and she herself were ‘happy peers’.
Helen Keller’s ideas were vague and her vocabulary was inadequate. But as she learned more and more words her field of inquiry broadened. One morning she asked Miss Sullivan the meaning of the word ‘‘love’’. Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round her and spelled into her hand, ‘‘I love Helen’. ‘‘What is love?’’ she asked. Miss Sullivan drew her closer and pointing to her heart said, ‘‘It is here’’. Once Helen was finding difficulty in stringing beads of different sizes. She was puzzled. Miss Sullivan touched her forehead and spelled the word with decided emphasis, ‘‘Think’’. In a flash Helen knew that the word was the name of the process that was going in her head. Miss Sullivan had a wonderful faculty for description. Helen was not interested in the science of numbers. But Helen learnt from life itself. When Miss Sullivan came, everything about her breathed of love and joy and full of meaning.
Q7. Describe Helen Keller’s stay at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston.
Ans.  It was Alexander Graham Bell who advised Helen’s parents to contact the Perkins Institute for Blind for her education. It was the institute where Laura Bridgman, a deaf and blind child had been educated. It was located in South Boston. Michael Anaganos, the director, asked former student Anne Sullivan to become Keller’s instructor. Miss Sullivan herself was visually impaired.
Helen made friends with the litle blind children. It was a unique pleasure to talk with other blind children in her own language. Until then she had been speaking through an interpreter like a foreigner. All the eager and loving children gathered round her and joined heartily in her frolics. They could read the books with their fingers. They were so happy and contented that she lost all sense of pain in the pleasure of their companionship. With the blind children she felt thoroughly at home in her new environment.
Helen learnt to speak in the spring of 1890. The impulse to utter audible sounds had always been strong within her. Mrs. Lamson, who had been one of Laura Bridgeman’s teachers came to see Helen. She had taught a deaf and blind child to speak in Norway. Helen resolved that she would learn to speak. Miss Fuller offered to teach her and gave eleven lessons in all. Her first connected sentence was, ‘‘It is warm.’’
Q8. When and how did Helen Keller learn to speak? How did she feel when she spoke to her mother and little Mildred after arriving home in Tuscumbia?
Ans.It was in the spring of 1890 that Helen Keller learned to speak. The impulse to utter audible sounds had always been strong within her. She used to make noises. She kept one hand on her throat while the other hand felt the movements of her lips. She was pleased with anything that  made a noise. It was her urge to feel the cat purr and the dog bark. She was entirely dependent on the manual alphabet. But she was determined to use her lips and voice. Friends discouraged her. But the story of Ragnhild Kaata inspired her to succeed. In 1890, Mrs. Lamson returned from Norway and came to see Helen Keller. She told her of a deaf and blind girl named Ragnhild Kaata. Mrs. Lamson had taught her to speak. Helen resolved that she too would  learn to speak. Miss Sullivan took Helen to Miss Sarah Fuller. She offered to teach her herself. Miss Fuller passed Helen’s hand over her face and let her feel the position of her tongue and lips when she made a sound. She was eager to imitate every motion and in an hour had learned six elements of speech: M, P, A, S, T, I. Miss Fuller gave eleven lessons in all. She was filled with delight and surprise when she uttered her first connected sentence. She uttered ‘‘It is warm.’’ They were broken and stammering syllables. But they were parts of a human speech. Miss Sullivan’s untiring patience and devotion helped her to progress towards natural speech.
Helen had leant to speak. At last, the happiest moment of her life arrived. The train stopped at the Tuscumbia station. The whole family stood at the platform. Her mother pressed her close to her trembling with  delight. Every syllable that Helen uttered delighted her. The little Mildred seized, kissed her hand and danced. Seeing his daughter uttering audible sentences, he expressed his pride and affection in a big silence.
Q9. How did Helen write a little story called ‘The Frost King’ and how was it received by Mr. Anagnos of the Perkins Institute for the Blind? Why did Helen call the incident a dark ‘cloud’ in her ‘childhood’s bright sky?’ Was Helen guilty of plagiarism?
Ans.  A little story, ‘The Frost King’ which Helen Keller wrote and sent to Mr. Anagnos, created a lot of trouble for her. It was like a dark cloud in her childhood’s bright sky’. For a long time she lived in anxiety, doubt, fear and shame. She was accused of plagiarism.
Helen Keller wrote the story when she was at home. Miss Sullivan described to her the beauties of the late foilage. Her descriptions revived the memory of a story which must have been read to her. Helen must have retained that story unconsciously. When the story was finished, she read it to her teacher. At dinner the story was read to the assembled family. They were surprised that Helen could write so well. It was her story and she had written it for Mr. Anagnos. She sent it to him on his birthday. Mr. Anagnos was delighted  with ‘‘The Frost King’’ and published it in one of the Perkins Institute reports. It was discovered that a story similar to ‘‘The Frost King’’ called ‘The Frost Fairies’ by Miss Margaret T. Canby had already appeared. Actually it was published in a book called ‘‘Birdie and His Friends’ even before Helen was born. The two stories were very much alike in thought and language. It was evident that Miss Canby’s story had been read to Helen. Helen’s story, ‘The Frost King’ was a plagiarism.
Mr. Anagnosis thought that he had been deceived. Helen tried to explain her position. But he turned a deaf ear to the pleadings of love and innocence. He suspected that Helen Keller and Miss Sullivan had deliberately stolen the bright story of Miss Canby. Helen was brought before a court of investigation. She was questioned and cross-questioned. As she lay in her bed that night, she wept and her spirit was broken. In her trouble she received many messages of love and sympathy. Miss Canby herself wrote kindly.‘‘Someday you will write a great story out of your own head,……’’
Q10. Describe Helen Keller’s visit to Niagara in 1893 and her visit to the World’s Fair with Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.
Ans.  The chief events of the year 1893 were Helen Keller’s visits to Niagara and the World’s Fair. She went to Niagara in March, 1893. It was a unique experience for her. It was difficult to describe her emotions when she stood on the point which overhangs the American Falls. She felt air vibrate and the earth tremble.
It might seem strange to many people that a blind and deaf girl should be impressed by the wonders and beauties of Niagara. What could that beauty and music meant to her? How could a blind and deaf girl see the waves rolling up the beach or hear their roar? To Helen Keller visiting Niagara was an uplifting experience.
During the summer of 1893, Helen Keller visited the World’s Fair with Miss Sullivan and Dr. Alaxander Graham Bell. She recalled those days when her childish fancies became beautiful realities. She saw many wonders from different parts of the world. All the marvels of invention, industry and the activities of human life actually passed under her finger tips. There she could feel the glories of India with its ‘Shivas and elephant gods’. There was the land of the Pyramids with long processions of camels. The President of the World’s Fair gave her the permission to touch the exhibits. Everything fascinated her, especially the French  bronzes. Dr. Bell went everywhere with them. He in his own delightful way described to Helen the objects of greatest interest. All these experiences added a great many new words in Helen’s vocabulary. It matured her to appreciate ‘the real and the earnest in the workaday world.’
Q11. Describe Helen Keller’s struggle at the Cambridge School to be prepared for Radcliffe College. How did she succeed in her mission?
Ans.   In October, 1896, Helen Keller entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies. Her mission was to get herself prepared for Radcliffe. Even when she was a little child, she surprised her friends with an announcement. She declared that someday she would go to college—to Harvard. It was decided that she should go to Cambridge so that she could get to Harvard. At Cambridge her plan was to have Miss Sullivan attend the classes with her and interpret to her the instruction given. Her studies for the first year were English history, English literature,  German, Latin, Arithmetic, Latin composition and occasional themes.
There were serious drawbacks to her progress. Miss Sullivan could not spell into her hands all that books required. She had another difficulty. She couldn’t get textbooks embossed in time. Each day Miss Sullivan went to the classes with her and spelled into her hand all that the teachers said with patience. She took a specialdelight in Schiller’s wonderful lyrics and Goethe. She read  Shakespeare, Burke and the ‘Life of Samuel Johnson’. She took her preliminary examinations for Radcliffe in July 1897. She passed in everything, and received ‘‘honours’’ in German and English. In the second year at the Gilman school she confronted unforseen difficulties. The books in mathematics were not embossed in time. Little by little, difficulties began to disappear. For eight months she received coaching at home and the preparation for the college went on without interruption. She took her final examination on 30th June, 1899 but her dream of entering Radcliffe was fulfilled only in the fall of 1900.
Q12. Describe Helen Keller’s experience at Radcliffe. Why did she say, ‘But college is not the universal Athens I thought it was?’
Ans. The first day at Radcliffe was very exciting. She had looked forward to it for years. She  started her studies with eagerness and hope. She felt within her the capacity to know all things. The lecture-halls seemed filled with the spirit of the great and the wise. The professors were the embodiment of wisdom. But soon Helen Keller realised that ‘college was not quite the romantic lyceum’ she had imagined. Many of her dreams ‘‘faded into the light of common day.’’ Gradually she began to realise that there were disadvantages in going to college.
Helen soon realised that one goes to college to ‘learn’ and not to ‘think’. In the college, there was no time to communicate with one’s thoughts. In the classroom she was practically alone. The professors were as remote as they were speaking through a telephone. The lectures were spelled in her hand as rapidly as possible. The significance and meaning of the lecturer got lost in her effort to keep in the race. Very few of the books required in the various courses were printed for the blind. She was obliged to have them spelled into her hand. As a result, she took more time to prepare her lessons than other girls. But there were exceptions too. Scholar like Kittredge would loving back Shakespeare ‘‘as if new sight were given to the blind.’’ She felt like the proverbial bull in the china shop. ‘A thousand odds and ends of knowledge came crashing about her head like hailstones.’ Helen discovered that ‘college is not the universal Athens’ she thought it was. There one doesn’t meet the great and wise face to face. One does not even feel their living touch. They seem mummified. But Helen never gave up the precious science of patience. She took her education as she would take a walk in the country, leisurely.
Q13. Helen Keller ‘depended on books not only for pleasure and for the wisdom they bring to all who read, but also for that knowledge which comes to others through their eyes and ears.’ Justify the statement highlighting her interest in various authors and their books.
Ans. Helen Keller had a passion for books. She started reading when she was just seven years old. From that age she had constantly ‘devoured’ every printed page that came within her reach. She didn’t study regularly nor according to rule. At first she read a few books like ‘Our World’ in raised print. She preferred reading herself to being read to. She began to read in good earnest during her first visit to Boston. She wandered from bookcase to bookcase in the library to pick up books of her choice. The words themselves fascinated her. Her true interest in books started from ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’. Then she read ‘Greek Heroes’, ‘‘Fables’’, ‘‘Bible stories’’, Lamb’s ‘Tales from Shakesperare’, ‘The Arabian Nights’, ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’, ‘Robinson Crusoe’, ‘Little Women’ and ‘Heidi’. The stories in which animals were made to talk like human beings never appealed to her. But she loved ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Wild Animals’ because they were real animals and not caricatures of men. She loved antiquity and ancient Greece with pagan gods and goddesses fascinated her. Greek poetry suited her responsive heart. Her admiration for ‘The Aenid’ was not so great as for Homer’s ‘Iliad’. The stories of the Greeks were full of charm for her and the stories of the Bible didn’t interest her so much. Shylock and Satan were her favourite characters. Next to poetry she loved history. Her favourites were: Green’s ‘History of English People’, Freeman’s ‘History of Europe’ and Swinton’s ‘World History’. She loved to read German literature for its strength, beauty and truth. Goethe’s ‘Faust’ fascinated her. Of all the French writers she loved to read Moliere and Racine best. She loved to read Mark Twain and Scott. In a word, literature was her ‘utopia’. No barriers of senses could shut her out from the sweet and gracious discourse of her book-friends.
Q14. Reading was not the only pleasure of Helen Keller; her pleasures and amusements were many and varied. Describe her favourite amusements and pleasures as mentioned in Chapter XXII of ‘The Story of My Life’.
Ans. No doubt, books fascinated Helen Keller but books were not the only pleasure for her. Right from her childhood she had special love for the country and out-of-door sports. She learned to row and swim at a young age. She liked to contend with wind and wave. She enjoyed canoeing, especially on moonlight nights. Sailing was her favourite amusement. The memories of it was a joy forever. She discovered that every man has a subconscious memory of the green earth and murmuring waters. Even blindness and deafness can’t rob him of the inherited capacity of the sixth sense. There is ‘a soul-sense that sees, hears, feels, all in one.’ All sensations reached her not through the eye and the ear but her whole body was alive to them.
Next to a leisurely walk in the countryside she enjoyed a ‘‘spin’’ on her bicycle. She loved her dog companions, particularly her bull tarriers. Her dog friends understood her limitations and always kept close to her when she was alone. Rainy days kept her indoors. She liked to knit and crochet. She loved to frolick with children. She could manage to read their lips. Museums and art stores were also sources of her pleasure and inspiration. Going to the theatre was a rare pleasure. It was her privilege to meet a few great actors and actresses. No doubt, sometimes a sense of isolation enfolded her like a cold mist. But then, all of a sudden came hope with a smile and whispers. So she tried to make the light in others’ eyes, her sun, the music in others’ ears, her symphony and the smile on others’ lips her happiness.
Q15. Who were the people, acquaintances and public figures who had helped and guided Helen Keller to transcend her limitations giving her a new purpose and happiness in her life? How did she show her indebtedness to them?
Ans. In the last chapter of ‘The Story of My Life’ Helen Keller sketches the names of all her friends, and public figures who contributed in making her life happy and purposeful. Their influences sweetened and ennobled her life. Helen disliked hypocrisy in human relations. A heart handshake or a friendly letter gave her genuine pleasure. Helen Keller counted it one of the sweetest privileges of her life to have known and conversed with many men of genius. She enjoyed the joy of Bishop Brooks’ friendship. As a child She loved to sit on his knee and clasp his great hand. He impressed upon her mind two great ideas—the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. She remembered meeting Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. She saw Holmes many times and learned to love the man as well as the poet. His gentle courtesy won her heart. Dr. Edward Everett Hale was one of her very oldest friends. She had known him since she was eight and her love for him increased with her years. He had been a prophet and the inspirer of men.
Helen Keller could never forget the contribution of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell in shaping her life. He had advised her parents to send Helen to the Perkins Institute for the Blind. She had spent many delightful hours listening to him about his experiments. He had a humorous and poetic side and loved children passionately. During her two years stay in New York she had many opportunities to talk with distinguished people. She met Laurence Hutton and Mrs. Hutton. He introduced Helen to his literary friends like William Dean Howells and Mark Twain. They were also gentle and sympathetic. Twain had his own way of thinking, saying and doing things. To sum up, Helen Keller remembered all those friends, acquaintances and public figures who made the story of her life. They turned her limitations into beautiful privileges and opportunities.

 QUESTIONS ON CHARACTERS

Q1. Give a character sketch of Helen Keller as it emerges out of her autobiography, ‘The Story of My Life’.
Ans. Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard. She set an example for thousands of deaf and blind persons to conquer their handicaps and attain miraculous achievements.
Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 at a plantation called Ivy Green in Tuscumbia. It was in Alabama state of the United States of America. Her father Captain Arthur H. Keller was a former officer of the Confederate Army. Her mother, Kate Adams Keller, was a cousin of Robert E. Lee. The Keller family originated from Switzerland. Helen Keller was not born blind and deaf. A mysterious disease left her deaf and blind.
The advent of Anne Sullivan was the greatest moment in the life of Helen Keller. The desire to express herself grew in her. Before the arrival of Miss Sullivan she used to communicate through few signs. Helen was a great fighter. She started learning to spell simple words lode ‘‘d-o-l-l’’, ‘‘pin’’, ‘‘hat’’ and few verbs like ‘‘sit’’, ‘‘stand’’ and ‘‘walk’’. She was thrilled when the mystery of language was revealed to her. She realised that everything had a name and each name gave birth to a thought. Through a slow and often painful process she progressed from learning to read to acquiring the skill of speaking. It was Miss Sullivan’s genius and Helen’s untiring devotion and patience that brought miraculous results.
Nothing could stop the deaf and blind girl from earning a bachelor degree from Harvard. But she had to wage a long struggle to get admission in Radcliffe College. She surprised the world when she became the first blind and deaf person to earn a bachelor degree. Helen Keller had a passion for reading. She loved ancient Greeks, Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Dickens. She was equally comfortable in French and German literature. Her pleasures and amusements were many and varied. She loved swimming, rowing, sailing and walking leisurely in the countryside. She loved visiting places. Her visits to Washington, Niagara and the World’s Fair broadened her knowledge and vision. Helen was fortunate to have the company of many great persons like Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, Father Brooks and many others who shaped and made the story of her life.
Q2. Draw a character sketch of Anne Mansfield Sullivan highlighting her monumental efforts and patience to teach a deaf and dumb girl to speak and write.
Ans. Miss Anne Mansfield Sullivan had the greatest influence on the life, character and achievements of Helen Keller. She gave a new direction, meaning and purpose to Helen’s dark life. Miss Sullivan inherited all those traits and characteristics that go in making a perfect teacher. She was a picture of tireless patience and unending devotion. It was her constant encouragement, help and guidance that made Helen Keller first deaf and blind in the world to earn a bachelor degree.
It was Graham Bell who advised the parents of Helen Keller to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind. The director, Mr. Anagnos asked a former student Miss Anne Sullivan to become Keller’s instructor. Miss Sullivan was herself a visually impaired 20 years old lady. It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship. The relationship evolved into Miss Sullivan becoming Helen’s governess and then eventual companion. Anne Sullivan arrived at Keller’s house in March 1887. She immediately began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand, beginning with ‘‘ d-o-l-l’’ for the doll. It was Miss Sullivan who unfolded and developed Helen’s skills and possibilities. It was Sullivan’s genius as a teacher, her sympathy and loving tact which made learning so beautiful and interesting for Keller. She felt that her being was inseparable from her student. All that was best in Helen Keller had been awakened by the loving touch of Miss Sullivan. Anne Sullivan stayed as a companion to Helen Keller long after she taught her. Anne Sullivan married John Macy in 1905. She remained a constant companion to Keller till she died in 1936.







NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Extended Reading Text / Novels / Long Reading Text





    Class 10 English Footprints Without Feet

    1. Chapter 1- A Triumph of Surgery
    2. Chapter 2- The Thief's Story
    3. Chapter 3- The Midnight Visitor
    4. Chapter 4- A Question of Trust
    5. Chapter 5- Footprints without Feet
    6. Chapter 6- The Making of a Scientist
    7. Chapter 7- The Necklace
    8. Chapter 8- The Hack Driver
    9. Chapter 9- Bholi
    10. Chapter 10- The Book That Saved the Earth

    Class 10 English First Flight
    1. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 1- A Letter to God
    2. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 2- Long Walk to Freedom
    3. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 3- Two Stories About Flying
    4. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 4- From the Diary of Anne Frank
    5. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 5-The Hundred Dresses - I
    6. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 6- The Hundred Dresses - II
    7. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 7- Glimpses of India
    8. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 8- Mijbil the Otter
    9. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 9- Madam Rides the Bus
    10. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 10- The Sermon at Benares
    11. NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Chapter 11- The Proposal










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