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  • The Day Language Came into My Life Analysis

    In this literacy narrative, Hellen Keller recalls the day she first met her teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan. Keller defines this moment as life changing and considers this time to be one of the most important days in her life. In her narrative, Keller depicts this day with vivid detail and tells her story in an exciting and anticipatory manner. Through imagery, appeal to emotion, and point of view, Keller creates an effective narrative that makes the reader part of her life-changing day. 

    One of the initial scenes in the narrative is when Keller recalls this life-changing day to be “eventful” and illustrates a picture of the scenes around her as “the afternoon sun penetrated the mass of honeysuckle that covered the porch and fell on my upturned face.” Through imagery, Keller draws the reader into her experience on that afternoon so that they feel what Keller is feeling. She paints an impressive picture of nature and the good feeling that the warmth of the sun gives her. Keller continues to use imagery in this paragraph as she goes on to describe the leaves and blossoms of the spring by sharing that “My fingers lingered almost unconsciously on the familiar leaves and blossoms which had just come forth to greet the sweet southern spring.” Keller’s descriptive wording paints a beautiful picture in the reader’s mind as she creates this effective piece of writing that makes the reader feel as though they are there with her.  

    A second element that helps to build the effectiveness of Keller’s narrative is to connect the reader to her emotions. She goes on to explain her excitement as she knows something unusual is about to happen. As Helen awaits Sullivan’s arrival, she thinks to herself that “I did not know what the future held of marvel or surprise for me.”  Here, Keller builds the anticipation that she feels which leads to some suspense for the reader. She also effectively relays her own emotions throughout the day when she compares herself to a ship stuck at sea “….. that ship before my education began, only I was without a compass or sounding line and had no way of knowing how near the harbor was.” Keller uses this analogy to describe the feeling of her life before education. Yet, these feelings of being alone and helpless were soon to change. She explains this moment as being the “light” that led this ship (herself) to shore. Her writing is effective because of the details that help us to understand her emotions, both before and during this emotional experience. 

     It is in this story that we begin to see more of Keller’s point of view. Keller recalls the morning after her teacher arrived when she brought Keller to a room and gave her a doll. The next thing she knew, Sullivan placed a doll in her hand and taught her how to spell the word “doll”.  As Helen “….. played with it a little while, Miss Sullivan slowly spelled into my hand the word “doll,” and the discovery began for Keller. As the experience was something new, Keller shares, “I was at once interested in this finger play and tried to intimidate it,” which demonstrates Keller’s curiosity. It makes the reader think that there have not been many times that Keller has felt interested in or so drawn to something new. Here her point of view helps the reader to share an important and special experience in her life. We began to see her learn for the first time, which was important for her. In Keller’s mind, this small gesture is monumental to her because it puts into perspective how little she was able to learn and how limited her life had been up until this point. Until this day, she was not able to spell or communicate with anyone, like most children her age. So, we see that, through her thoughts, this is the first time she can talk to someone and communicate normally. Keller talks about the day she met Anne and the difficulties that occur in the following weeks while she walks with her and learns how to read. Keller recalls a specific event that proved to be frustrating to both Keller and Sullivan when “Earlier in the day we had a tussle over the words “m-u-g and w-a-t-e-r.” It was not until Sullivan poured water over Keller’s hand that the word “water” had meaning. In a comparable way, Keller shows us how Sullivan’s world also opens as she now understands the importance of having meaning to words to understand them. Ironically, it is through Keller’s eyes, which are blind, that it is possible to see and feel her surprise, frustration, anger, and, finally, her joy at the realization that words could open her world and allow her to now communicate with others. 

    Keller further uses the doll to explain her emotions as she tells a story of how she accidentally broke the doll out of frustration. She explains that because of her situation she does not have much attachment to anything “Neither sorrow nor regret filled my passionate outburst.” This story helps the reader to empathize with her and understand the more difficult or mundane aspects of her life.  

    Through Keller’s descriptive wording, detailed stories, and analogies, we can paint a clear picture and understand for ourselves what her life is like and what she is thinking and feeling. The stories she tells help the reader to get a better understanding of what her everyday life is like and to sympathize with her. Because this narrative is written in first person, we are better able to understand the world through Keller’s perspective. The experiences that Keller presents to the reader in her narrative are transformative and serve as a turning point in her life; using imagery, emotion, and her unique perspective she tells her life story in a way that is effective and entertaining to read.  

  • The Positive Impact a Teacher Can Have on a Student  

    As a child I struggled a lot in school at Laurel School especially when it came to writing assignments and study habits. I was also very shy and found it difficult to ask for help when I needed it. Teachers were often very rude to me as they assumed I did not care about my work. My struggles in school and poor grades made me very self-conscious. This all changed my sophomore year of high school. In tenth grade, I had to take an American history class with a teacher who had a negative reputation for being extremely strict and mean. I was terrified of this class. However, after the first week of school I realized that he was not as bad as everyone made him out to be. 

     I remember I was sitting in the hallway on the second day of school, and I was attempting the reading assignment for his class. The assignment was to read a chapter of the textbook and take notes. It seemed easy enough, however, as I sat there trying to read the textbook, I felt like I was going to cry. The reading was exceptionally long and confusing and I had no idea which parts I was supposed to take notes on. Then it seemed like out of nowhere he approached me and asked if I needed any help. Normally, in this situation, I would have said that I did not need any help because of how much I feared asking for it. However, at this moment I was so stressed out that I was completely vulnerable. I was completely honest with him. I told him how confused I was by the reading and that I was not sure how I should be taking notes. He then showed me that there was a question sheet online and that I could use to take notes on the most important parts of the reading. 

     As time went on, I began to struggle a lot in this class because it was extremely fast paced and there were many writing assignments. At this time in my life, I hated writing because I felt I was not any good at it. I would always procrastinate writing assignments and would often never feel confident or satisfied with the work I was turning in no matter how hard I worked on it. Despite my positive interaction with my history teacher, I still dreaded going to him for help because I was embarrassed. However, after several low grades, he reached out to me and suggested that we set up a time to meet. I was terrified but I knew I wanted to succeed and do well in the class. Finally, I met with him, and I was shocked by how different he was outside of the classroom. While teaching, he came off stern and strict, but one on one he was kind and understanding of my struggles. He genuinely cared and wanted to help me succeed. I began meeting with him regularly and my grades started to improve. Together we worked out a system to help me take better notes in class. He would also meet with me to help me draft and revise writing assignments. He would even meet with me before tests and made sure I knew the material. He made work easier for me inside and outside the class in his class and in other classes. Not only did he help me to improve and study habits and writing skills, but he also improved my confidence in myself as a student and taught me that it was ok to ask for help.

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