Mid Life Of Helen Keller Essay

This essay has a total of 2378 words and 10 pages.

Mid Life Of Helen Keller




HELEN KELLER'S MIDDLE LIFE


The summer of 1887 was more fun for Helen than all of her previous years. Every
object she touched and named seemed to bring her closer to the rest of the world, which
pleased her and made her more confident. One thing Annie worked on with Helen was to
find the beauty in everything. She taught her the different kinds of flowers, and trees, by
their smell and the way they felt. Annie and Helen had most of their lessons in the
outdoors that summer. The two liked to climb trees, and read books because they thought
it was relaxing and something different. Helen later said, "The birds and flowers and I
were happy peers."1 That goes to show just how much the two were outdoors.
That same summer, Helen began to learn geography, although she did not know it
at the time. Annie built dams out of pebbles, and made raised maps in the sand to show
where mountains and valleys were. Annie informed Helen about glaciers and volcanoes
and other natural disasters. Even though Helen was actually learning some vitally
important things, it seemed to her like the two were just playing in the sand.
One day the two of them were in the woods, and decided that it was time to eat
lunch. Annie helped Helen up into a nearby cherry tree because they were the easiest to
climb, and she ran back to the Keller house to get some food. Helen promised to stay
there and keep still. While Annie was away, the sky suddenly turned dark, which Helen
could tell, because the warmth of the sun turned into coolness. Helen knew the smell of a
rainstorm, and was positive one was coming. The wind started to howl, so strong that it
almost knocked her out of the tree. Helen began to get scared, and hoped Annie was
coming soon. Helen was just about ready to jump when she felt Annie's hand pull her
down from the tree. The two girls made it back home before it began to rain,. but it was
not until many years later that Helen would climb another tree. Helen explained nature by
saying, "It wages open war against her children, and under softest touch hides treacherous
claws."2
Captain and Kate were pleased with the progress Helen had made, and hoped
Annie wanted to stay with them until Helen knew how to learn on her own. It didn't take
much persuading for Annie to stay. Annie wanted Helen to make even more
accomplishments than Laura Brigman, and she believed Helen could do it. Already Helen
had a large vocabulary and was very well behaved.
In 1888, Annie decided to take Helen to the Perkins Institute, to show Michael
Anagnos how much Helen had learned. On their way down to the Institute, Annie read
Hans Christian Andersen's Tales and other poems to Helen. Helen loved the poems. She
especially liked Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Greenleaf Whittier.
When the two girls arrived at the Institute, Helen immediately fit in. All the
children there were either blind or deaf, so Helen understood the way their life was. Most
of the children there spoke using the manual alphabet which had been invented by Trappist
monks many years before. The monks came up with the manual alphabet because they
had taken a vow of silence so they had to have some way of communicating.
Laura Bridgman, who was now about sixty years old, still lived in the Institute.
Annie had known Laura from her previous years at the Institute, so wanted to introduce
her to Helen. Helen became excited knowing that she was soon to meet Laura, but that
excitement left her shortly after she did. Laura immediately recognized Annie's fingers on
her lips, and was thrilled to have Annie back. But since Laura's development had stopped
after childhood, she had never been able to really understand the world. She was normally
an unhappy lady, and it made her even more unhappy to know that there was another
person who had accomplished the same feat as her. So Laura kissed Helen's cheek, but
didn't exactly make her feel welcome. Laura had been crocheting lace, but didn't let
Helen touch it because she thought Helen's hands were dirty. She said, "Helen, you must
not be forward when calling on a lady."3 Helen was hurt by the way Laura treated her,
but soon became happy again because she enjoyed the Perkins Institute so much.
Annie and Helen spent the entire winter of 1888 at the Perkins Institute, during
which time Helen learned many things. While there, Helen had her first lesson in History.
Annie took Helen to Plymouth where they both touched the rock on which the pilgrims
had landed years before. She also climbed Bunker Hill Monument. Helen also learned to
swim, and especially liked to toboggan.
Michael was extremely impressed with how much Helen had learned. He
encouraged Annie to keep working, because Helen was learning fast. He said, "Helen, I
am so impressed with the progress you have made that I will call you the eighth wonder of
the world."4 Michael and Helen became so close that, whenever he would leave town, he
would write to her, just as he had when Annie was attending the Institute.
While living in the Institute this first year, Annie thought Helen was ready to learn
how to read. Louis Braille invented a way of reading for the blind in 1829, which can be
described as having raised dots on paper. Annie took cardboard pieces and printed letters
on them. Day after day the two went over the different words, and Helen finally caught
on. Annie gave Helen Reader for Beginners, a dictionary of words in Braille.5 Helen read
the book many times, until she could read the words fluently.
When summer came around, the Perkins Institute had to close, so the girls had to
make a decision where to live for their vacation. It was decided that they stay with Mrs.
Hopkins, an old friend of Annie in Cape Cod. Helen was thrilled. Her dream had always
been to go swimming in the ocean. The first time Helen went swimming, she swallowed
the sea water, and was pushed underwater by a wave. Luckily her teacher helped her out
from the water. After Helen settled down from the panic she was in, she said, "Who put
the salt in the water anyway."6 After that day, it took a while before she was not scared to
swim in the ocean.

Helen and Annie returned the following winter to the Perkins Institute. They
stayed there off and on until 1891. Helen was never enrolled as a student in the Institute,
but often went to class with the students. Her favorite classes were those of Greek, Latin,
and German.
Michael and Helen were still really close, and wrote each other frequently. When
he was away in Greece, she wrote him a long letter in French. He was amazed, and
showed many people the letter that showed how talented Helen was getting. Although
Annie was happy that Michael and Helen were friends, she wished that he wouldn't give
her so much publicity. Soon, Helen and Annie were known around the world. But
because people were talking so much about their progress, lies were beginning to be made
about them. Some of them including things like Helen could speak fluently, and could
play the piano, neither of which were true. As the rumors circulated more, people began
to think of Annie and Helen as frauds. Annie encouraged Michael to quit bragging about
Helen so much by saying, "Children require sympathy and guidance far more than praise."7
After saying this, the rumors began to fade away.
While still living in the Institute, Helen wrote her first book. It was entitled The
Frost King.8 Helen was only eleven years old at the time, and had written the story to
Michael as a birthday present. The story was about the four seasons and how they came
about. Michael had the book published, which brought attention again to Annie and
Helen. She was praised until people began to notice that Helen's Frost King was very
similar to Margaret Canby's The Frost Fairies.9 People around the world including
Michael began to accuse Helen of plagiarizing. Both Helen and Annie fought back against
the accusations saying that Helen had never read the book. Helen was quoted as saying, "I
love the beautiful truth, and I am not lying."10 This controversy brought an end to the
friendship between the girls and Michael, which also meant that they would no longer be
staying in the Institute. Still today, there is no proof whether Annie and Helen had once
read Canby's story. Although Helen's ending with the Institute was not one she had asked
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