Helen Keller

From the beginning Keller creates a confidential bond with the reader. Tentatively admitting her initial fear and insecurity, Keller states, “I have, as it were, a superstitious hesitation in lifting the veil that clings about my childhood like a golden mist.” Gaining confidence, Keller strengthens her voice as she gives an overview of her family’s history and life before her illness. She immerses herself in the events of her childhood and refrains from expressing the difficulty of recounting her experiences. Although Keller refrains from expressing these emotions, she continues to engage the reader as she vividly recounts the pain, confusion, and frustration that haunted her as a child.

As Keller recounts the sense of loss and urgency that provoked her so deviously, the strength and passion of her writing style unfolds. Although her writing style is informal, she employs figurative language and strong diction to convey her emotions. Reflecting on her desire to communicate, she writes, “I felt as if invisible hands were holding me, and I made frantic efforts to free myself. I struggled – not that struggling helped matters, but the spirit of resistance was strong within me; I generally broke down in tears and physical exhaustion.”

Keller’s urgency to communicate was eased by the arrival of her teacher, Ann Sullivan. At this point Keller’s tone changes from desperation to wonder. Keller describes herself before her education as a ship “without a compass or a sounding-line, and [with] no way of knowing how near the harbor was.” Although Sullivan could not restore Keller’s sight and sound, she gave Keller the means to understand and the “light of love.”

Following Sullivan’s arrival, Keller was exposed to the world of spelling, reading, and writing. In the spring of 1888 Sullivan and Keller traveled to the Perkins Institution for the Blind. Keller declares, “It delighted me inexpressibly to find that they knew the manual alphabet. What joy to talk with other children in my own language! Until then I had been like a foreigner speaking through an interpreter.”

Sullivan continued to teach Keller to communicate. Two years after their trip to Boston, Keller learned how to form words through meaningful sounds. Although the challenge of speaking daunted her, she was diligent and found strength in the hope of communicating with her family in their own language.

Keller continued to excel in her education. In 1896 she was enrolled in the Cambridge School for Young Ladies with the hopes of someday attending college. Sullivan accompanied her and helped her overcome the difficulties provoked by her disabilities. In 1898 Keller withdrew from Cambridge and began her studies with a private tutor. A year later she took her final examinations, and was accepted into Radcliffe College.

Despite the opposition of her friends, she attended Radcliffe. Keller described her decision saying, “A potent force within me, stronger than the persuasion of my friends, stronger even than the pleadings of my heart, had impelled me to try my strength by the standards of those who see and hear. I knew that there were obstacles in the way; but I was eager to overcome them.” Keller admits to having romanticized the college experience. She had expected to gain wisdom along with knowledge; rather, she was compelled to study bits of information without thoroughly analyzing the material. Keller remarks, “While my days at Radcliffe were still in the future, they were encircled with a halo of romance which they have lost; but in the transition from romantic to actual I have learned many things I should never have known had I not tried the experiment.”

Keller wrote her autobiography during her third year at Radcliffe. A year later she graduated from college with honors. Throughout the remainder of her life, Keller published other works including Optimism, The World I Live In, The Song of the Stone Wall, Out of the Dark, My Religion, Midstream-My Late Life, Peace at Eventide, Helen Keller in Scotland, Helen Keller’s Journal, Let Us Have Faith, Teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, and The Open Door. Throughout her works, Keller’s writing style remains rich with descriptions. She captures the reader’s attention with her strong metaphors, similes, personification, and diction.

Keller also employs her informal voice to her advantage. She engages the reader with her thoughts, emotions, and opinions. Keller’s determination, diligence, and strength are displayed through the passion of her writing; similarly, Keller’s passionately challenges her readers to break the barrier of low expectations and limitations. In her own words Keller states, “When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”