a clear and telling mental image
When I try to classify my earliest
impressions, I find that fact and fancy look alike across the years that link the past with the present.
a quality that arouses emotions, especially pity or sorrow
Besides, many of the joys and sorrows of childhood have lost their
poignancy; and many incidents of vital importance in my early education have been forgotten in the excitement of great discoveries.
so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness
In order, therefore, not to be
tedious I shall try to present in a series of sketches only the episodes that seem to me to be the most interesting and important.
unusual or striking
One of my Swiss ancestors was the first teacher of the deaf in Zurich and wrote a book on the subject of their education—rather a
singular coincidence; though it is true that there is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.
a natural or acquired habit or characteristic tendency
I am told that while I was still in long dresses I showed many signs of an eager, self-asserting
reproduce someone's behavior or looks
Everything that I saw other people do I insisted upon
lacking awareness and the capacity for sensory perception
Then, in the dreary month of February, came the illness which closed my eyes and ears and plunged me into the
unconsciousness of a new-born baby.
confusion resulting from failure to understand
I especially remember the tenderness with which my mother tried to soothe me in my wailing hours of fret and pain, and the agony and
bewilderment with which I awoke after a tossing half sleep, and turned my eyes, so dry and hot, to the wall away from the once-loved light, which came to me dim and yet more dim each day.
not carefully or expertly made
Soon I felt the need of some communication with others and began to make
mark as different
At five I learned to fold and put away the clean clothes when they were brought in from the laundry, and I
distinguished my own from the rest.
without change, in every case
I knew by the way my mother and aunt dressed when they were going out, and I
invariably begged to go with them.
troubled persistently especially with petty annoyances
I could not understand, and was
show, express, or direct through movement
I moved my lips and
gesticulated frantically without result.
rule or exercise power over in a cruel and autocratic manner
It pleased me to
domineer over her, and she generally submitted to my tyranny rather than risk a hand-to-hand encounter.
showing no care or concern in attitude or action
I was strong, active,
indifferent to consequences.
forceful and definite in expression or action
When we were fortunate enough to find a nest I never allowed her to carry the eggs home, making her understand by
emphatic signs that she might fall and break them.
clearly or sharply defined to the mind
Many incidents of those early years are fixed in my memory, isolated, but clear and
distinct, making the sense of that silent, aimless, dayless life all the more intense.
cause to act in a specified manner
I could not be
induced to tell where the key was.
having a moral duty to do something
My father was
obliged to get a ladder and take Miss Sullivan out through the window—much to my delight.
something recalled to the mind
My earliest distinct
recollection of my father is making my way through great drifts of newspapers to his side and finding him alone, holding a sheet of paper before his face.
given to yielding to the wishes of someone
My father was most loving and
indulgent, devoted to his home, seldom leaving us, except in the hunting season.
a kind of discourtesy in the form of taking liberties
I guarded both doll and cradle with the most jealous care; but once I discovered my little sister sleeping peacefully in the cradle. At this
presumption on the part of one to whom as yet no tie of love bound me I grew angry.
a state of social isolation
Thus it is that when we walk in the valley of twofold
solitude we know little of the tender affections that grow out of endearing words and actions and companionship.
a sudden desire
But afterward, when I was restored to my human heritage, Mildred and I grew into each other's hearts, so that we were content to go hand-in-hand wherever
caprice led us, although she could not understand my finger language, nor I her childish prattle.
idle or foolish and irrelevant talk
But afterward, when I was restored to my human heritage, Mildred and I grew into each other's hearts, so that we were content to go hand-in-hand wherever caprice led us, although she could not understand my finger language, nor I her childish
excessively agitated; distraught with violent emotion
I felt as if invisible hands were holding me, and I made
frantic efforts to free myself.
a violent commotion or disturbance
If my mother happened to be near I crept into her arms, too miserable even to remember the cause of the
in an unclear way
She had read his account of Laura Bridgman, and remembered
vaguely that she was deaf and blind, yet had been educated.
standing above others in quality or position
When I was about six years old, my father heard of an
eminent oculist in Baltimore, who had been successful in many cases that had seemed hopeless.
a person skilled in testing for defects of vision
When I was about six years old, my father heard of an eminent
oculist in Baltimore, who had been successful in many cases that had seemed hopeless.
manage in a makeshift way; do with whatever is at hand
My aunt made me a big doll out of towels. It was the most comical shapeless thing, this
improvised doll, with no nose, mouth, ears or eyes—nothing that even the imagination of a child could convert into a face.
uneasiness about the fitness of an action
Acting on the doctor's advice, we went immediately to Washington to see Dr. Bell, my father with a sad heart and many
misgivings, I wholly unconscious of his anguish, finding pleasure in the excitement of moving from place to place.
properly or sufficiently qualified, capable, or efficient
Dr. Bell advised my father to write to Mr. Anagnos, director of the Perkins Institution in Boston, the scene of Dr. Howe's great labours for the blind, and ask him if he had a teacher
competent to begin my education.
perceptible by the senses, especially the sense of touch
Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a
tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen?
feel about uncertainly or blindly
Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious,
groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen?
Earlier in the day we had had a
tussle over the words "m-u-g" and "w-a-t-e-r."
tender, romantic, or nostalgic feeling or emotion
In the still, dark world in which I lived there was no strong
sentiment or tenderness.
any condition that makes it difficult to make progress
barriers still, it is true, but
barriers that could in time be swept away.
unproductive of success
I felt my way to the hearth and picked up the pieces. I tried
vainly to put them together.
a close connection marked by common interests or character
I did nothing but explore with my hands and learn the name of every object that I touched; and the more I handled things and learned their names and uses, the more joyous and confident grew my sense of
kinship with the rest of the world.
the quality of being kind or helpful or generous
When the time of daisies and buttercups came Miss Sullivan took me by the hand across the fields, where men were preparing the earth for the seed, to the banks of the Tennessee River, and there, sitting on the warm grass, I had my first lessons in the
beneficence of nature.
be earlier in time
I knew it, it was the odour that always
precedes a thunderstorm, and a nameless fear clutched at my heart.
difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze
One beautiful spring morning when I was alone in the summer-house, reading, I became aware of a wonderful
subtle fragrance in the air.
I started up and
instinctively stretched out my hands.
Was there ever anything so
exquisitely beautiful in the world before! Its delicate blossoms shrank from the slightest earthly touch; it seemed as if a tree of paradise had been transplanted to earth.