The Story of My life- Novel for class 10- English CBSE
By Helen Keller
Chapter 2- Notes and Study Material
Introduction of Chapter 2- the Story of My Life by Helen Keller
Helen’s hands compensated for the loss of her sense of hearing and sight. She developed a language of signs of her own with the help of her mother. She learnt to distinguish things by touch and she could fold and put away clean clothes. Her constant companions were Martha Washington, the child of their cook and an old dog, Belle. Both Martha and Helen loved to do mischief, and they went about indulging in all kinds of pranks, though Helen tried to boss over Martha and had the final say in their friendship. She goes on to recount some of the childish pranks that she indulged in. The timely intervention of Katy prevented Martha from cutting Helen’s hair. Helen was saved from burning herself while drying her apron, by her nurse, Viny. When she learnt to use the key, Helen locked her mother in the pantry for three hours and later locked her teacher, Miss. Sullivan, in her room, hiding the key under the wardrobe. Thus the time to channelize Helen’s energy and enthusiasm had come. The family moved to a larger house and her father helped her to acquire language by spelling words into her hands and making her repeat them. Helen felt jealous of the attention given by her mother to her sister. She even went to the extent of overturning the cradle, when the little baby was sleeping in it. She goes on to speak of her close and touching relationship with each of her parents, whose support and love helped her become strong and confident.
Conclusion/ Chapter in short/ Analysis of Chapter 2/Understanding the Theme of Chapter 2
Helen talks about the days after the illness when she was coping with darkness and silence. She began to use sign language to communicate with people around her. She developed a strong bond with her mother. Frustration often led to bouts of aggression. Helen describes the Christmas celebrations at home and reveals anecdotes of time spent with Martha Washington and her dog Belle. She talks about the accident with fire and how she had locked her mother in the pantry by mistake. She describes the arrival of Miss Sullivan and how she too was locked up by Helen in her room and was subsequently rescued by Helen’s father. She also talks about how she coped with her father’s death. She talks about her attitude towards her sister.
Short Summary of Chapter-2 The Story of My Life by Helen Keller in Simple Words-
This chapter describes how Helen coped with the darkness that she had to face after her illness. She had to use sign language to communicate with the people around her. Her frustration at not being able to communicate with those around her led to bouts of aggression. The only person who could reach out to her was her mother, which led to the strengthening of the bond between them. Helen also recollects the happy times she spent in the kitchen and playing in and around the house with Martha Washington, the daughter of their cook, and Belle, her dog_. Both Martha and Helen were always up to some mischief or the other and one day they almost cut off each other’s hair before they were stopped by Helen’s mother. The chapter also describes how Helen learnt to survive and communicate with the people around her in spite of her blindness and deafness. An incident is related where Helen learnt to use a lock and locked her mother in the pantry by mistake. This incident caused her mother to decide to find a teacher for her, to help control Helen’s growing indiscipline. Soon after, Miss Sullivan was engaged as Helen’s teacher but was locked into her room by Helen on the very first day. In the chapter, Helen describes her father as being loving and indulgent who loved his family, especially Helen. She remembers his caressing touch and his eager delight in doing whatever pleased her. But her first personal experience with death came when she heard the news about her father’s death due to some illness. Helen also acknowledges her jealousy towards her little sister who seemed to take up all the care and time of their mother. The chapter also mentions how Helen almost killed her infant sister by overturning the cradle.
Extra Important Questions and Answers of Chapter 2
Question.1- How did Helen learn about her surroundings after she became blind and how did she connect with the people around her?
Answer- Helen used her hands to feel every object and observe every movement that took place around her. She communicated with others by making crude signs like shaking her head to say no, nodding her head to say yes, a pull meaning `come’ and a push for ‘go’.
Question.2-Why did Helen rush to her room when she felt the front door shutting?
Answer-Helen understood that the shutting of the front door indicated the arrival of some guests so she ran up to her room to dress up in clothes she felt were appropriate to receive guests.
Question.3-What does the above incident reveal about the little girl?
Answer-It reveals that in spite of Helen’s handicaps, she was extremely bright and observant and tried hard to behave like those around her.
Question.4-How did Helen realise that she was different from those around her and how did this affect her?
Answer- Helen realised that her mother used her mouth to communicate instead of sign language like she did. So she would touch the lips of the people while they were talking and imitate the movements of the lips and by moving her hands. But when she was not able to talk like them she would get frustrated and angry and start kicking and screaming till she was exhausted.
Question.5- Did Helen realise when she was naughty? How did this make her feel?
Answer-Helen did realise when she had been naughty, but she did not feel any deep regret at her behaviour.
Question.6-Who were Helen’s companions as a young child? How did she behave with them?
Answer-Martha Washington, the daughter of Helen’s cook and her dog Belle were her constant companions as a child. Helen was very dominating by nature. She would force Martha to do what she pleased. She tried to do the same with the dog without success.
Question.7-. Why did Martha allow Helen to dominate over her?
Answer-Helen was a very strong and adventurous child who loved taking risks. She would also use physical force to get her way: Martha let her do as she pleased to avoid getting beaten by her.
Question.8-How did the two girls spend their time together?
Answer-The girls spent a lot of time in the kitchen kneading dough balls, helping to make ice cream, grinding coffee, fighting over the cake-bowls, feeding hens and turkeys, stealing food and eating it in hiding. They also hunted for guinea-fowl eggs, visited the horses in the stables and touched the cows as they were milked.
Question.9- How did Helen enjoy Christmas?
Answer-Helen loved the odours of Christmas cooking and helped in the grinding of the spices, picking of the raisins. She licked off the stirring spoons.
Question.10-Pick out an example to show that Martha was as mischievous as Helen.
Answer-One day when both the girls were sitting on the veranda, cutting out paper dolls, they got bored and started cutting shoe strings and leaves of plants. Suddenly, Helen cut off one of Martha’s curls and Martha retaliated by cutting off one of Helen’s curls. They were stopped short of cutting each other’s hair by Helen’s mother.
Question.11-‘This vexed me and the lesson always ended in a one-sided boxing match.’ What vexed Helen and who did she have the boxing match with?
Answer-Helen wanted her dog Belle to bark at birds and chase them as dogs normally do. But Belle would become rigid on seeing a bird and not obey her commands. This always angered Helen and she would then box her dog.
Question.12-How did the dog react on being hit by Helen?
Answer-Helen’s dog, Belle, on being hit, would get up, stretch herself and move away from Helen.
Question.13-How did Helen almost burn herself up on the day?
Answer-Helen had wet her apron, so she spread it over the fireplace in the sitting room to dry it. As the apron took time to d try, she went closer to and threw it over the ashes. The apron caught fire and she almost burnt herself in the process.
Question.14-Who saved Helen from burning?
Answer-Helen was saved by her old nurse, Viny who threw a blanket over her and put out the fire.
Question.15-Why did Helen lock up her mother?
Answer-Helen locked up her mother, by mistake, when she learned how to turn a key and lock a door.
Question.16-What made her parents decide that Helen needed some form of disciplining and education?
Answer-After Helen locked her mother in the pantry and sat outside laughing at her mother’s plight, her parents felt the need for a teacher to discipline Helen and teach her right from wrong.
Question.17-Why did Miss Sullivan have to be rescued from her room? Who rescued her?
Answer- Helen locked Miss Sullivan in her room and refused to reveal where she had hidden the key. Her father had to rescue Miss Sullivan with the help of a ladder.
Question.18-Who were the other members of Helen’s family?
Answer-Along with her parents, Helen lived with her two half-brothers and younger sister, Mildred.
Question.19-Cite examples from the lesson that show Helen’s father to be a very patient man.
Answer-Helen’s father would spend hours with Helen in the garden, taking her from tree to tree and vine to vine. He would tell her stories by spelling the entire story on her hand and wait for her to repeat his anecdotes to him.
Question.20-‘This was my first great sorrow.’ What is Helen talking about in this line?
Answer-Helen is talking about her father’s death. He died suddenly after a brief illness.
Question.21-Why did Helen throw her sister out of her cradle?
Answer-Helen found her sister sleeping in a cradle, she usually put her doll Nancy to sleep there. In a fit of rage, she overturned the cradle and almost killed her sister.
Question.22-What does Helen mean by the phrase—’valley of twofold solitude’?
Answer-Solitude means loneliness. For Helen, it was ‘two-fold’ because she could not hear. She was also lonely, unaware of feelings of care and sensitivity towards others. She was, thus, overcome by a loneliness of the soul.