The Story of My life- Novel for class 10- English CBSE
By Helen Keller
Chapter 14- Notes and Study Material
Chapter 14- Notes and Study Material
Introduction of Chapter 14- the Story of My Life by Helen Keller
Helen wrote her first book, “The Frost King”, (initially titled “The Frost King”). She showed it to her teacher and the story was read out to her family members at dinner. She sent it to her friend, Mr Anagnos, who published it in one of The Perkin Institution reports. But it was discovered that the story was similar to Miss. Margaret. T. Canby’s “The Frost Fairies” which had appeared in a book called “Birdie and His Friends”. Helen was accused of plagiarism, though she could not figure out how it had happened. When questioned later by a teacher, she admitted that Miss. Sullivan had talked to her about Jack Frost and his wonderful works. She was accused of plagiarism by Mr Anagnos himself. She was questioned by a court of investigation and the judges forced her to acknowledge that she had listened to the story, “The Frost Fairies”, that was read to her. Stir felt humiliated, though nothing had been proved against her.
Now she became highly cautious while writing. It was Miss. Sullivan’s encouragement that drove away from the psychological fear from her mind that she was a ‘thief of words’. Miss. Canby herself sent a bracing message stating that she did not consider Helen guilty of any wrong and that she believed that Helen would grow up to become a famous writer. In fact, what Helen had done was not a deliberate or conscious attempt at copying another person’s idea. She had just reproduced the ideas that had become a part and parcel of her life, in her own words. But then, she had lost one of her dearest friends, Mr Anagnos, because of the allegation of plagiarism.
Conclusion/ Chapter in short/ Analysis of Chapter 14 /Understanding the Theme of Chapter 14
Helen describes the writing of the story ‘The Frost King’. She sent the story to Mr Anagnos as a birthday gift. The story was published by him but a court of investigation found similarities between her story and another one and accused her of copying ideas. This incident had a deep impact on her life.
Short Summary of Chapter-14 The Story of My Life by Helen Keller in Simple Words-
In this chapter, Helen describes the writing of the story ‘The Frost King’ and the appreciation she received from her family. Although she received great joy in composing the story, her joy was short-lived. She sent the story to Mr Anagnos as a birthday gift. Mr Anagnos was delighted with the story and published it in one of his institution’s reports. However, this innocent gift backfired as people found similarities between Helen’s story and another story titled the ‘Frost Fairies’. Mr Anagnos was annoyed and believed that she had copied the story and sent it to him under her own name. He thought that Helen and Miss Sullivan had deliberately stolen the thoughts of others and imposed them on him to win his admiration. He made Helen face a court of investigation composed of teachers and officers of the institution which passed a judgment implicating Helen of copying. Helen went into deep depression as a result and lost all confidence in herself. Mr Anagnos cut off all relations with her. Helen ends this chapter by making clear that her intention in giving an account of the event was neither to defend herself nor to put the blame on anyone but simply because this particular incident was important in her life and education.
Extra Important Questions and Answers
Question.1-Why does Helen say that the winter of 1892 was darkened by one cloud? What was this cloud?
Answer-In the winter of 1892, Helen’s story The Frost King was accused of being a copied.
Question.2-How did Helen write the story?
Answer-Helen wrote the story at home, immediately after she learnt to speak. One day, after her teacher had described the beauty of the foliage around Fern Quarry, Helen was motivated to write the story which seemed to flow out of her.
Question.3-How did her teacher, family and friends react to the story?
Answer-Helen’s teacher, family and friends were all very impressed with her story and complimented her on it.
Question.4-Why did Helen send the story to Mr Anagnos?
Answer-Helen sent her story to Mr Anagnos as a birthday gift.
Question.5-Why does Helen write, ‘ little dreamed how cruelly I should pay for that birthday gift’?
Answer-Mr. Anagnos published Helen’s story in one of the reports of the Perkins Institution. It was soon brought to his notice that the story was almost identical to another story called ‘The Frost Fairies’ by Miss Margaret T Canby. Thus, Helen was accused of deliberately copying the story and sending it as her own. Helen was deeply troubled by the accusation and regretted sending her story.
Question.6- What was Helen’s reaction to these allegations?
Answer-Helen was deeply distressed because she could not remember having read The Frost Fairies and could not understand how she came to write something so similar. She lost confidence herself and it was a long time before she started writing again.
Question.7-What does the behaviour of Mr Anagnos and the committee that examined her reveal about them?
Answer-The episode shows how the insensitive adults were quick to blame Helen without understanding the effect of their harsh behaviour on a little girl who was blind and deaf. In fact, Mr Anagnos cut off all relations with Helen, which hurt her deeply.
Question.8-What was the role played by the Perkins Institution in Helen’s life?
Answer-Perkins Institution for the Blind was the first place where Helen interacted with people outside of her family circle. It was the first place where she saw a library which she could peruse to her heart’s content. Here she learnt the basics of lip reading and reading with the help of Braille. Later, however, it was also the place that undermined her confidence and left a deep scar on her psyche, when she was criticised and unfairly condemned for supposedly copying a story and saying that it was written by her. This curbed her efforts at self-expression for a long time, and also made her far more cautious when she interacted with people and institutions in the future.
Question.9-Do you think Mr Anagnos’ behaviour towards Helen after the story was published was justified?
Answer-Mr. Anagnos’ behaviour towards Helen seems to have been very unfair. To begin with, he was very supportive of her, and when she sent him a story as his birthday gift, he was very pleased. He was the one who sent the story for publication. However, when it came to light that the story was very similar to another existing story, he changed his attitude almost overnight. He could have clarified the matter and explained that the story was not to be seen as a copied or inspired story but as the triumph of their efforts in enabling a young blind girl to read and write. Instead, he refused to be associated with her, as though he was trying to distance himself and hide the fact that he had sent it for publication. Perhaps he did this out of consideration of his own position within the Institution, but it was certainly very unjust towards Helen. As a result of his harsh behaviour, she was made the victim, her confidence was shattered and it was a long time before she could bring herself to write again. Apart from stalling her growth, Mr Anagnos also exposed the hypocrisy of the Institute, which was supposed to help disabled people, but was completely insensitive to the pain and mental anguish that they caused a young child like Helen.