The following section is for a better understanding of Helen’s View of life
The letters, which have been arranged by John Albert Macy, are an expression of Helen’s inner thoughts and trace her growth as an individual. They reveal her struggle to be more like the people around her and therefore most letters are an expression of her view of the world, as seen by those who can see and hear, rather than as she actually experienced it. The letters were a sort of exercise which trained her to write. Since most of her friends were distinguished people, she felt the necessity to write well.
In her letter to Alexander Graham Bell, dated 9 March 1900, Helen discloses her pleasure in writing letters. According to her, letters are more truly her own since they quickly enter the thoughts and feelings of her friends without the need of an interpreter.
Helen started writing the letters just three and a half months after the first word was spelt onto her hand by Miss Sullivan. Helen slowly showed improvement in writing and putting thoughts into words. In her letters, she mentions her visit toiler relatives, Miss Sullivan’s skill in teaching, her first encounter with the sea, her education etc. These letters reveal the places she lived in, the famous people she knew and her struggles as she learnt to express herself in words and sentences. These letters have been selected to show her development and to present the most interesting and significant phases of her life. The letters reveal that at that time, she was the only well-educated deaf and blind person in the world.
1. What do the first few letters tell us about Helen?
Answer- The first few letters show a lack of punctuation, indicating that these were her first attempts at understanding words and making sense out of them by stringing them together. They also record the things she did on a day-to-day basis and the events that took place in her life and in the lives of her family members.
- What impressions do you get of Helen’s language in the later letters she wrote?
Answer- One is able to gauge the command that Helen slowly gains over the language. Helen’s letters trace her growth and understanding of the language, how she acquires more examples of idioms and her grammar becomes more accurate. Her sentences become more complex and her vocabulary richer.
3. What does Dr Brook’s reply tell us about his interaction with Helen?
Answer- Dr Brook simplified the concept of God for Helen and explained the meaning of love and goodness. The impact of this letter can be seen in her writing when she expresses her gratitude for his explanation of the spiritual aspects of life.
4. What do the letters exchanged by Helen with her friends and family reveal to you?
Answer-The letters exchanged between Helen and her friends show the love, respect and regard that people had for Helen, and how they marvelled at her knowledge, her zest for life and her keen interest in learning more. They also reveal people held her in the high esteem for having fought and triumphed over the tough odds she had to face since childhood. They also show how she had become a role model for those around her. In addition, they reflect her deep love for her family, especially Mildred, her and Miss Sullivan, her teacher.
- Who was Tommy Stringer? How was he helped by Helen?
Answer- Tommy had become deaf and blind at the age of four. He had no mother, and his father was too poor to care for him. He was admitted to the Perkins Institution to on the advice of Dr Alexander Graham Bell. When Helen heard of him she wrote her friends to raise money for his education. She also monitored his progress a school.