Questions Based on Incidents
Q.1. How did Helen lose her faculties of seeing and hearing?
Answer: Helen was not born blind and deaf. She had been a normal child with all her senses of perception in perfect condition. When she was nineteen months old, she was stricken by a mysterious disease, which even the doctors could not diagnose. They had no hope and even predicted her end. Gradually Helen’s senses of hearing and sight started fading away until she lost them permanently. Darkness and stillness enveloped her life once and for all.
Q.2. How did Helen almost burn herself?
Answer: One day Helen spilt some water on her apron. As she wanted to get it dried quickly, she spread it before the fire, which was flickering on the sitting room hearth. She moved nearer the fire and threw the apron over the ashes, in her hurry to get it dried. The apron caught fire and it engulfed her. She could feel her clothes blazing. On hearing her frightened cry, Nancy the nurse came rushing to her rescue. She threw a blanket on her, which nearly suffocated her. Thanks to Viny’s timely intervention, only Helen’s hands and hair had been burnt.
Q.3. How did Dicken’s ‘American Notes’ kindle hope in Helen’s mother? Why was her hope short-lived?
Answer: The frequent tantrums that Helen threw up when she could not succeed in doing things as she wanted to do them, made her parents really perplexed. The school for the blind was far away and it was unlikely to come to an out of the way place like Tuscumbia to teach a child who was both deaf and dumb. It was at this juncture that Helen’s mother remembered vaguely an account of Laura Bridgman (from Dickens” American Notes’), who had been educated in spite of being deaf and blind. This brought in a ray of hope in Kate’s life. But the hope was short-lived as she realised that Dr Howe, who had discovered the way to teach the deaf and blind, had been dead many years before and his methods had probably died with him. Moreover, there was no possibility of a little girl living in a far-off town in Alabama receiving the benefit of Howe’s teaching.
Q.4. A teacher can play a very significant role in the life of her students. Explain the statement with reference to Miss Sullivan.
Answer: The role of a teacher does not end in imparting knowledge to his/her students. A teacher is a guide. a facilitator and a mentor to the students. The love, understanding and patience that a teacher bestows on the students, help in moulding them, instilling confidence and self-respect in them. They are the moulders of the future pillars of a nation. Miss. Sullivan is a typical example of a dedicated teacher. Her role as a teacher all the more challenging as her student was physically challenged. But she did not leave a single stone unturned in order to groom Helen. From the very beginning, she was tolerant and patient. Through her deft handling of Helen’s psychology, she succeeded in dispelling darkness and diffidence from her mind. By tolerating her lapses, she won her heart. She patiently guided her, step by step, in learning to spell and read. She was fruitful in her effort to bring light in the otherwise dark world of Helen.
Q.5. How did Miss. Sullivan introduce the beauty and benevolence of nature to Helen?
Answer: Miss. Sullivan took Helen across the fields to the banks of the Tennessee River, when the daisies and the buttercups were in full bloom. She was taught how the sun and rain make the trees grow, how birds build nests and live and thrive from land to land and how the squirrel, the deer and the lion and every other creature finds food and shelter. As the knowledge of the things around her grew, she discovered the delight of the world she was in. Her teacher taught her to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of her little sister’s hand. She linked her earliest thoughts with nature and made her feel that the birds, flowers and Helen herself were happy peers. Thus, in subtle ways, Miss. Sullivan helped Helen to make connections with the world around her.
Q.6. “Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out”. How was Miss Sullivan finally able to drive home the meaning of ‘love’ into Helen’s bead?
Answer: Once, Helen brought some violets for Miss Sullivan, who tried to kiss her in return for her kind gesture. But Helen would not let anyone else other than her mother kisses her. When Miss Sullivan spelt, “I LOVE HELEN” into her hand, Helen wanted to know what love was. Miss Sullivan pointed to her heart and said, “It is here”. For the first time, Helen became conscious of her heartbeats and the word ‘love’ puzzled her as she could not touch it. Even her teacher could not show her love. Her search or the meaning of ‘love’ continued. One day when the sun reappeared from behind dark clouds, after a brief shower, Helen asked if that was love. Then her teacher explained that one cannot touch the clouds, but feel the rain and know how glad the thirsty earth is to have it. In the same way, love cannot be touched, but one can feel the sweetness that it pours into everything. Without love a person who id not be happy and would not want to play. in this way, the concept of love was made clear to Helen.
Q.7. What were the different steps that Helen had to take before she started reading “Reader for Beginners“?
Answer: As soon as she could spell a few words, Helen was given slips of cardboard on which were printed words in raised letters. She learnt that each word stood for an object, an act or a quality and she began by finding the slips of paper that represented them. Then she placed each name on the object, thus making a sentence out of the words and carrying out the things themselves. For example, she placed her doll on the bed with the words ‘is-on-bed’ arranged beside the doll. At times, everything in the room was arranged in object sentences. When she got the “Reader for Beginners”, she hunted for the words she knew and she was filled with joy when she found them. She compares her joy to the game of hide-and-seek.
Q.8. What does Helen say about her first trip on the ocean?
Answer: Helen’s first trip in the ocean was in a steamboat from Boston to Plymouth. She felt that the voyage was full of lie and motion. But the rumble of the machinery made her believe that it was the thunder before the rain. She started to cry, thinking that their outdoor trip would be cancelled if it were to rain.
Q.9. “Shortcuts are inviting, but they must be used with all caution and proper care”. Elucidate this statement with reference to the adventure that Helen, her sister and Miss Sullivan had on the trestle.
Answer: Once Helen, her sister and Miss Sullivan lost their way, while wandering in the woods. Suddenly Mildred pointed out to the trestle which spanned a deep gorge. As it was late and growing dark, they decided to cut across the trestle which was a shortcut to their house. As they were halfway through the trestle, they heard the “puff, puff’ of an engine. Just in time, they climbed down upon the cross braces. The train rushed over their heads. They could feel the hot breath from the engine on their faces and the smoke and ashes almost choked them. As the trestle shook and swayed, they felt that they would fall into the chasm. With great difficulty, they regained the track and reached home long before dark.
Q.10.What kind of a reception did Helen receive at the station from her family members?
Answer: As soon as she had made her own speech, she wanted to go home. She talked to Miss Sullivan throughout the journey, not for the sake of talking but determined to improve to the last minute. The whole family had come to the station to receive her. Her mother pressed her close to her, speechless and trembling with delight, taking in every syllable that she spoke. Mildred seized her free hand and kissed it and danced. Her father expressed his pride and affection in a big silence.
Q.11.Briefly describe Helen’s trial before the court at the Perkins Institution.
Answer: Helen was brought before a court of the investigation, which comprised of the teachers and officers of the institution. Miss Sullivan was asked to leave. She was questioned and cross-questioned to such an extent that it appeared that they wanted her to acknowledge the fact that she remembered having had “The Frost Fairies” read out to her. She could sense the doubt and suspicion in every question aimed at her. She could also ‘see’ her dear friend, looking at her reproachfully. The blood pressed about her thumping heart, and she could scarcely speak, except in monosyllables. Even the consciousness that it was a dreadful mistake did not lessen her suffering. When at last she was allowed to leave the room, she was completely dazed and did not even notice the consoling words told by her teacher and her friends.
Q.11. Helen became a different person after her visit to Boston. How?
Answer: Yes. Helen became a different person after her visit to Boston. This journey was different from the previous journey to Baltimore as she was no longer a young “restless” child. Helen could befriend the blind children at the Perkins Institute quite easily. She was delighted to be able to communicate with the blind children in her own language. Besides, she was happy to be at the same institute where Laura Bridgeman had been taught. She envied the blind children only in one aspect their ability to hear. Eventually, Helen felt contented and happy in their company and forgot all her pain. The next day, they went to Plymouth by water. It was Helen’s first trip on the ocean and first voyage on a steamboat. On reaching their destination, she felt the curves and cuts of the Plymouth Rock and the I620″ engraved on it. A gentleman at the Pilgrim Hall Museum gave her a small model of the rock. She was familiar with the wonderful stories about the Pilgrims that visited that rock. She could idealise them for their bravery and zeal to acquire home in an unknown territory. Later on. she was disappointed to know about their shameful acts of persecuting minority groups like the ‘Quakers’. In Perkins institution, she made many friends among them was Mr William Endicott and his daughter. They were very kind to her and took her through their rose garden at Beverly Farms. She went to the beach for the first time and played in the sand. It was because of Mr Endicott that she called Boston, ‘The City of Kind Hearts.’