The Story of My life- Novel for class 10- English CBSE
By Helen Keller
Chapter 21- Notes and Study Material
Short Summary of Chapter-21 The Story of My Life by Helen Keller in Simple Words-
In this chapter, Helen discusses her love for reading. She remembers reading a book at the age of seven years. She used her fingertips to read as many books as she could find. She started by reading the basic ‘readers’ which she read so many times that the embossed words got worn out. Sometimes Miss Sullivan ‘read’ the stories by spelling onto her hand, but she preferred reading by herself. She started reading in earnest during her visit to Boston at the Perkins Institution. She read the books from the library, bringing down all the books which caught her fancy. In the beginning, she read irrespective of whether she understood each word or not. As a result, she acquired a rich vocabulary, memorizing words and sentences, many of which she did not really understand. When she was an eight-year-old, she was found reading The Scarlet Letter by her teacher. The teacher had asked her if she liked little Pearl and then she told her that she had a beautiful story about a little boy which she was sure to like better than The Scarlet Letter. The name of the story was Little Lord Fauntleroy and was the first book she understood and enjoyed. It was from this book that Helen dates the beginning of her true interest in books. Whenever Miss Sullivan stopped her ‘reading’ for a break, she would get upset because she was so absorbed in the story that even a short break made her feel deprived. Later, Mr Anagnos got the story embossed and she read it until she learnt it by heart. She mentions a lot of books that helped her connect with the outside world. She did not enjoy the books which had morals, or where animals were given human traits. She did, however, enjoy reading the Greek classics. Her introduction to the Bible was not very memorable, but over time, she found the stories very absorbing and uplifting. She enjoyed Shakespeare’s plays and also liked books on history. She was fascinated by classic writers such as Homer and Virgil. She also talks of her appreciation for French and German literature. Literature thus became her Utopia.
Conclusion/ Chapter in short/ Analysis of Chapter 1/Understanding the Theme of Chapter 1
Helen writes about her love for reading books. She writes about her joy at reading classics like Iliad, Shakespeare’s plays. She also loved French and German literature. She found the stories in the Bible very uplifting.
Question.1-Why did Helen love books?
Answer- Helen loved books, not only because they gave her pleasure, but also because through them, she received knowledge of the world around her.
Question.2-Why was May 1887 an important month in Helen’s life?
Answer- May 1 887 was an important month for Helen because it was the month when she started reading her first connected story.
Question.3-Why did she not read too many books in the beginning?
Answer- Helen could not read too many books in the beginning because there were very few books in raised print for beginners.
Question.4-Why did Helen like reading to herself more than when Miss Sullivan read to her?
Answer-Helen liked reading herself because she could then read the stories she liked, over and over again. It offered her independence of choice.
Question.5-How did her first visit to the Institution in Boston fuel her love for reading?
Answer- At the Institution in Boston, Helen was allowed to spend a lot of time in the library, where she wandered from bookcase to bookcase, taking down whatever book her fingers lighted on. Thus, she was able to read whatever she wanted, which made her keen to read more.
Question.6- Which book did Helen read while sitting on the hammock with Miss Sullivan?
Answer- Helen read the book Little Lord Fauntleroy while sitting on the hammock with Miss Sullivan.
Question.7-Why did Helen feel impatient when Miss Sullivan tried to explain any part of the story?
Answer- Helen did not like the stories to be broken up with explanations because she thought they were unnecessary. She was content to hear the story without leaping into analysis or explanation of its events.
Question.8-Why did Helen not enjoy fables?
Answer- Helen did not like the fact that animals were made to talk and act like human beings. She also found it difficult to believe that animals like monkeys and foxes could teach humans the truths of life.
Question.9-What was her view of other books featuring animals?
Answer- Helen enjoyed reading books like The Jungle Book and Wild Animals I have Known because the animals featured in these books were not caricatures of human beings’ Moreover, the morals carried by these stories were subtle.
Question.10-What did Helen enjoy about Greek literature and history?
Answer- Helen had a special fascination for the Greek Gods and Goddesses. In fact, she loved them so much she almost worshipped them.
Question.11-Why does Helen recommend The Iliad?
Answer- Helen recommends The Iliad because of the enjoyment she got while reading it. She felt her soul being uplifted above the narrow circumstances of her life and it made her forget the physical limitations of her world.
Question.12-What was Helen’s view of the Bible?
Answer-At first, Helen did not find Bible interesting, but as she continued to read it, she found it very uplifting and inspiring. However, she found some parts in it objectionable.
Question.13-What were Helen’s views on Shakespeare?
Answer- Helen loved reading Shakespeare’s plays from childhood. Of all his plays, she was impressed by Macbeth the most. She was also deeply impacted by characters like King Lear and Shylock.
Question.14-What did Helen think of anti-heroes like Shylock and Judas?
Answer- Helen felt sorry for anti-heroes as she felt that they could not be good even if they wished to because no one seemed willing to help them or to give them a fair chance.
Question.15-Why did Helen call literature her ‘Utopia’
Answer- In the world of literature, Helen felt the happiest, as the books were her friends who spoke to her without any barriers or awkwardness. In spite of her blindness and deafness, she could interact with them through her fingers and they would reveal the world to her in a way that her senses could not.