Summary of the story of my life in 500 words
Miss Sullivan taught Helen the names of objects by giving them to her and then spelling out the letters of their name in her hand. Helen learned to spell these words through imitation, without understanding what she was doing, but eventually had a breakthrough and realized that everything had a name, and that Miss Sullivan was teaching them to her. From this point on, Helen acquired language rapidly; she particularly enjoyed learning out in nature, where she and her teacher would take walks and she would ask questions about her surroundings. Soon after this, Helen learned how to read; Miss Sullivan taught her this by giving her strips of cardboard with raised letters on them, and then having her act out the sentence with objects. Soon, Helen could read entire books.
In May 1888, Helen went north to visit Boston with her mother and teacher. She spent some time studying at the Perkins Institute for the Blind, and quickly befriended the other blind girls who were her age. They spent a vacation at Brewster in Cape Cod, where Helen experienced the ocean for the first time. Following this, they spent nearly every winter up north.
Once she had learned to read, Helen was determined next to learn how to speak. Her teacher and many others believed it would be impossible for her to ever speak normally, but she resolved to reach that point. Miss Sullivan took her to the Horace Mann School in 1890 to begin learning with Miss Sarah Fuller, and Helen learned by feeling the position of Miss Fuller's lips and tongue when she spoke. The moment she spoke her first words, "It is warm," was a powerful memory for her: she was thrilled that she might be able to speak to her family and friends at last.
The winter of 1892 was a troubling time for Helen. Seemingly inspired by the beautiful fall foliage around her, she wrote a story called "The Frost King," and sent it up to her teacher at the Perkins Institute as a gift. It soon came out that Helen's story was quite like another in a published book, called "The Frost Fairies." Helen had been read the original story as a child, and the words had remained so ingrained in her mind that she'd unwittingly plagiarized them when she wrote her own story. This tainted Helen's relationship with her Perkins Institute teacher, Mr. Anagnos, and made her distrust her own mind and the originality of her thoughts for a long time.
In 1894 Helen attended the Wright-Humanson School for the Deaf in New York City, and began studying formal subjects like history, Latin, French, German, and arithmetic. In 1896, she began her studies at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in Massachusetts, which would prepare her to eventually attend Radcliffe College, the women's college affiliated with Harvard University. This was her first time attending school with girls who could see or hear, rather than other students who were also deaf or blind. Though it was a challenge, she persevered; however, her mother eventually withdrew her from the Cambridge School to finish her Radcliffe preparation with a private tutor, because they did not agree with the Cambridge School principal's wish to lighten Helen's course load. She successfully qualified for Radcliffe in 1899, and entered college in the fall of 1900. Though college presented unique obstacles for Helen to overcome, she deeply appreciated her opportunity to attend.
Helen uses the final chapters of her memoir to discuss certain things that are particularly important to her, like her love of books, her favorite pastimes, and the friends she made who shaped her life. Two additional sections of the autobiography include Helen's personal letters written throughout her youth, as well as supplementary commentary by her editor, with a first-hand account by Helen's teacher, Anne Sullivan.
Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, a little town of northern Alabama. The family on her father’s side descended from Casper Keller, a native of Switzerland, who had settled in Maryland. Her grandfather, Caspar Keller’s son, also acquired large tracts of land in Alabama and finally settled there.
Her grandmother Keller was the daughter of Alexander Moore and second cousin to Robert E Lee. Her father’s name was Arthur H. Keller and he was a captain in the Confederate Army and her mother was Kate Adams who was many years younger to her husband as she was his second wife.
Helen Keller lived in a small house which consisted of a large square room and a small one in which the servants slept. There was a custom in the South to build a small house near the homestead as an annex to be used on occasion and such a house was built by her father after the Civil War. After his marriage to Kate, Helen’s mother, he shifted to that house. The house was covered with vines, climbing roses and honeysuckles. There was a screen of yellow roses and Southern Smilax which hid the little porch. It was the favourite haunt of hummingbirds and bees.
The family lived in the Keller Homestead, also known as ‘Ivy Green’ because the house, the surrounding trees and fences were covered with ivy. Helen considered the house to be the paradise of her childhood.
Helen’s life began on a simple note. The very naming of the child, i.e., Helen was an emphatic one. Her father suggested the name of Mildred Campbell whom he regarded highly but her mother put an end to all discussions by saying that she would be called after her mother, Helen Everett. Helen was taken to the church for christening but on the way, her father lost the name.
He just remembered that it had to be after Helen’s grandmother so he gave her the name Helen Adams. In her childhood, Helen was an eager and self-asserting child. She imitated everyone and learnt walking as well as talking at an early age. But her happiness did not last long. One day in the month of February, she fell ill. The doctors termed it as an acute congestion of the stomach and brain.
They even thought that she would not live. It was a mysterious fever which left her suddenly and mysteriously. But it took her eye-sight along with it. With each passing day, her eyes turned dry and hot and became dimmer and she felt silence all around. It was a nightmare for her when she realised that she had lost both her eyes and ears. The whole world to her was dark and silent.