Helen Keller wrote the story of her life at a young age of twenty-two. Encouraged by her teacher Anne Sullivan, she began to jot down episodes of her life, and published them as a series in the Ladies Home Journal in 1903. A year later these articles were published as The Story of My Life.
The story is set in the social and intellectual environment of a southern state of America in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The American Civil War (1861-1865) has resulted in abolition of slavery, the effects of industrialization were visible in a more comfortable life for many, and new discoveries in science were changing the way people looked at their world.
Helen admitted a feeling of uncertainty as she began the task of writing her autobiography. An autobiography relies on the memories of the writer and she fears that she may be unable to differentiate between imagination and fact.
Keller traces the background of her family, on both mothers and fathers side. Keller had happy memories of her childhood but it lasted only a year and a half. She fell ill with a mysterious illness which the doctors called congestion of the stomach and the brain. The mysterious fever robbed Helen of her ability to see and hear.
Keller began to learn with her disabilities. But her inability to communicate with others made her angry, frustrated and rebellious.
The arrival of Miss Sullivan in the narrative was a watershed mark in the narrative, indicating the tremendous impact of the teacher on Keller’s life. The later part of the book expresses Keller’s increasing confidence and control over her life. Her response to books, places and people shows a mind that was sensitive and quick. She was specially receptive to the beauties of nature and literature. She went on to read mathematics, science, social sciences as well.
The book sent out a positive message of hope to people who were trapped in the darkness of their lives.
Helen Keller’s story fills me with a deep sense of respect for the women who lived through amazing experiences .Keller’s life is a testimony to courage. She dared to do things most people, with or without disabilities, would not have dared to do. She dared to nurture dreams and fulfil them. And in doing so she lived a full and rich life.
After writing this book she has written many more books and articles on socialism and women rights. Keller used her writing to put forward her opinion on issues close to her heart. She was fearless in criticism of the things she disapproved of. In her later life, she devoted herself to raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind. In an age when a woman’s world was her home, Helen Keller’s achievements were nothing short of a miracle.