The Story of My Life


Helen Keller

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Themes and Colors
Determination and Perseverance Theme Icon
Storytelling and Communication Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Friendship, Community, and Goodwill Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Story of My Life, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Determination and Perseverance

Helen Keller’s autobiography The Story of My Life, written during her time as a student at Radcliffe (the women’s college at Harvard University) reflects both the trials and joys of her childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. After being struck deaf, dumb, and blind by a bout of scarlet fever when she was nineteen months old, young Helen’s childhood was marked by frustration, isolation, and pain, but also by joy, grace, and love. As Helen…

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Storytelling and Communication

Stories formed the foundation of much of the young Helen Keller’s life. Children’s stories, classic plays, and the literature of Louisa May Alcott and Frances Hodgson Burnett greatly shaped Keller’s imagination and her grasp of language alike. The stories Anne Sullivan told Helen were most often rooted in nature and the world around her. By telling Helen stories about the world she lived in, Miss Sullivan accomplished a task which seemed nearly impossible: she communicated…

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Helen Keller wrote her memoir while enrolled at the prestigious Radcliffe College—an incredible achievement for anyone, let alone for a deaf and blind woman at that time. Nevertheless, the autobiography is largely critical of traditional education. Keller recounts the story of her very nontraditional education, which was presided over chiefly by Miss Anne Sullivan. Sullivan was a teacher of the deaf and blind who, upon arriving at the Keller household, gave Keller the tools…

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Friendship, Community, and Goodwill

In the last lines of her autobiography, Helen Keller reflects on how her friends “have made the story of [her] life.” She knows that it is only through friendship and community that her achievements have been made possible, and she spends the last several pages of the text gratefully thanking her friends. Specifically, she is grateful to have been able to feel part of a community despite the often-isolating nature of her existence. In this…

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