The Reading Report of
The Story of My Life by Helen Kaller
Long ago, when I was a student of grade six, I accidentally came into the world of Helen Kaller, what was out of my expectation. My vague recollections indicate that a book list was once delivered to our class, and every student was required to buy at least one book mentioned in it. It was merely the cover of the book, and the appealing introduction followed that resulted in my decision to buy the book named Three Days to See, containing the autobiography The Story of My Life and the essay Three Days to See, all by a deafblind female, Helen Kaller. This incident opened a window for me to see into the inner world of this celebrated and marvellous woman. When I received my copy and began to go through it, the image of this giant figure became gradually clear. The tract of her life displayed in front of me, her struggle of acquiring language moved me, and her companionship with her teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan inspired me. Through the exquisite words and the fluent statemenst, I saw directly into Helen's inner world, where a indomitable angle lived. What was regretful was that my copy was a Chinese edition, so, to some extent, it was a barrier between me and the author, preventing her original thoughts from being fully expressed.
After I have begun my university life, I have a chance again to read the book The Story of My Life, as it is a assignment of this Extensive English Reading course. The difference is that, this time I have gone through the original edition of Helen's autobiography. What impress me first is the graceful style of her writing, such as the tropes, the description of the nature, and the choice of the words which is hard to be distinguished when being translated into another language. I'd like to develop my reading report according to the chapter order, and both abstract the good sentences and express my own opinion towards the contents.
Chapter 1: The beginning of this autobiography is a beautiful sentence:' I have, as it were, a superstitous hesitation in lifting the veil that clings about my childhood like a golden mist." It presents Helen's fear of writing the history of her life as it is a difficult task, and also implies that this chapter is about her early childhood. During this period of time, light and voice fulfills her life and a wonderful world is accessible to her. With the remote recollections, she present a series of sketches: the vine-covered house that the family lives in; the honeysuckles and climbing roses growing in the garden; the trees and fences surrounding the house; and the porch hidden from view by a screen of yellow roses. Helen also mentions that, though she was a baby then, she showed many signs of eager, self-asserting disposition. She insisted on imitating everything she saw other people did. Six-month-old as she was, she surprised others by saying"Tea, tea, tea" quite plainly. This kind of imitation and her efforts of making some sound for the world doesn't cease until acute congestion of the stomach and brain close her eyes and ears, leaving her in the endless darkness. When an idea occur to me that Helen could had been a fortunate girl and grew up as other girls did, I can't help feeling sorry for her suffering, and,however, admiring what she has achieved in her later life.
Chapter 2: Helen records the rest of her childhood after her recovery of the illness, in which time she has already been deafblind. She sits in mum's lap or clung to her dress as she goes about mum's household duties, using hands to feel every object and observed every motion. She says that she owes her mother's loving wisdom all that was bright and good in her long night. Through Helen's description, I can see a character who is, use my poor vocabulary, considerable and merciful. Helen's father is a editor of a newspaper. Her earliest distinct recollection of her father is making her way through the drifts of newspapers to his side and finding him alone, holding a sheet of paper before his face. This is a scene of peace and love, filled with the sunlight of the afternoon. She regard him as a man loving and indulgent, devoted to his home, seldom leave except in the hunting season. To her great sorrow, father dies of a short illness in 1896, with a brief time of acute suffering. This is her first personal experience with death. I can feel that, though Helen has received love from parents, and has fun with her mere two companions, Martha Washington, the child of the cook, and Belle, an old dog, her childhood is full of loneliness and caprice. Until Sullivan comes to her rescue, bring her light and wisdom.
Chapter 3: With the time passes, Helen's desire to express herself grows. The few signs she used becomes less adequate, and the failures of make herself understood are invariably followed by outbursts of passion. Her parents are deeply grieved and perplexed for this, and thus start the long way of curing her sickness, which is the theme of this chapter. They lives far from any special schools for disabled children, but Dicken's " American Notes" inspires them, which is a account of Laura Bridgman, a deaf and blind, yet have been educated. They travel from Alabama to Baltimore to call on a eminent oculist, while he indicates that he can do nothing. But the kind and warm-hearted gentleman advice Helen's father to consult Dr. Alexander Graham Bell who would be able to give them information about schools and teachers of deaf or blind children. The family then goes to Washington and finally receives the help from Dr. Bell. A teacher is found and is convinced to arrive. The end of this chapter presents Helen's hope and delight: "Thus I came up out of Egypt and stood before sinai, and a power divine touched my spirit and gave it sight, so that I beheld many wonders. And from the sacred mountain I heard a voice which said," Knowledge is love and light and vision." "
Chapter 4: In the March of 1887 comes the most important day of Helen, on which her teacher Sullivan comes to her. One the afternoon of that eventful day, a few hours before Sullivan's arrival, Helen has guessed something unusual will happen from mum's signs and from the hurrying to and fro in the house. When hearing the approaching steps, she stretches her hands as she supposed to her mother, but some-one takes it. It's Sullivan, an angle comes to reveal all things to her, and, more than all things else, to love her. On that eventful day happens another thing: Helen starts to learn words. When Helen touches an object, Sullivan spells it in her hand, and after several tries Helen succeeds in connecting the object with a certain word. She realizes that everything in this world has its own name, and father, mother, sister teacher are among them. Words that are to make the world blossom for her, "like Aaron's rod, with flowers."
Chapter 5: When the time of daisies and buttercups comes Miss Sullivan takes Helen by the hand across the fields, making friends with nature. Helen feels the kindness and the beneficence of nature by smelling the fragrant woods and feeling the heat of the sunlight. However, on the other hand, she has an experience which teaches her that nature is not always kind. One day when Helen and her teacher return from a long ramble, they have a rest under a wild cherry tree. The shade is grateful, and the tree is so easy to climb that with Sullivan's assistance she succeeds in climbing up and sitting in the branches. Sullivan goes back to home to fetch the lunch, and just during her absence the weather changes and a strange odour comes from the earth, which precedes a thunderstorm. A nameless fear clutches her heart and suddenly she feels helpless and surrounded by immense darkness. It was until she was knocked down by the wind that Sullivan comes to her rescue. These experiences, no matter bright dreams or nightmare, shapes her spirit and enriches her during the long night.