The Story of My Life

The Story of My Life Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the summer of 1894, Helen attended a meeting of the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf, and there it was arranged that Helen would go to study at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City. In October of that year, Helen went to New York, accompanied, of course, by Miss Sullivan. There, Helen trained in vocal culture and lip reading, but also studied arithmetic, geography, French, and German.
Helen expanded the horizons of her education by taking classes at yet another renowned specialized school for children with disabilities like her own. Helen’s commitment—and her family’s—to furthering both her own personal edification and her sense of community is evident in her stellar education.
Themes
Determination and Perseverance Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Friendship, Community, and Goodwill Theme Icon
Helen liked German best of all but found French very difficult. Her progress in speech, similarly, was not what her teachers hoped it would be—Helen wanted to speak like other people, but could not quite reach her goal. She struggled in arithmetic, and often found herself jumping to conclusions and aggravating her difficulties. Despite all these setbacks, Helen excelled in geography and loved learning all the secrets of nature. She took walks each day in Central Park with her teachers and fellow students, and in the springtime took excursions to small towns along the Hudson River. Helen reflects on her two years in New York as extremely happy ones, largely due to the dedication and care of her teachers.
As Helen branched out in her interests and school subjects, she found herself on a learning curve—things which once came easily to her demanded more of her, suddenly, and she struggled to keep up with the new, broadening horizons in her education. Helen’s love of nature continued to bring her comfort and joy, and her years in New York were made happier by her excursions into nature with her new community of teachers and friends. 
Themes
Determination and Perseverance Theme Icon
Storytelling and Communication Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Friendship, Community, and Goodwill Theme Icon
Before she left New York, however, Helen’s “bright days” were darkened by a deep sorrow—her father died in February of 1896. Despite her father’s passing, Helen could still feel his loving presence and “watchful interest” in her hard work, and has refused to be discouraged from her studies and progress despite the deep void her father’s loss left in her life.
Helen’s setbacks up to this point have been largely practical or intellectual; this emotional setback was new to her, and though her father’s death brought her great sorrow, she continued in pursuit of her goals, knowing that doing so is what he would have wanted for her.
Themes
Determination and Perseverance Theme Icon