Part III: Chapters 1-2

This account of Helen Keller's life is divided into three parts: Part I is Keller's autobiography, which she published in 1903; Part II is a selection of Keller's letters; and Part III consists of supplementary materials by Keller's teacher and lifelong friend, Anne Sullivan.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. disillusionment
    freeing from false belief
    Several passages of her autobiography, as it appeared in serial form, have been made the subject of a grave editorial in a Boston newspaper, in which the writer regretted Miss Keller's apparent disillusionment in regard to the value of her college life.
  2. accurate
    characterized by perfect conformity to fact or truth
    In her account of her early education Miss Keller is not giving a scientifically accurate record of her life, nor even of the important events.
  3. obviate
    do away with
    This difficulty is in part obviated by the use of her braille machine, which makes a manuscript that she can read; but as her work must be put ultimately in typewritten form, and as a braille machine is somewhat cumbersome, she has got into the habit of writing directly on her typewriter.
  4. detached
    no longer connected or joined
    Thus she composed much of her story on the typewriter, and in constructing it as a whole depended on her memory to guide her in putting together the detached episodes, which Miss Sullivan read over to her.
  5. temperament
    your usual mood
    Partly from temperament, partly from the conditions of her work, she has written rather a series of brilliant passages than a unified narrative; in point of fact, several paragraphs of her story are short themes written in her English courses, and the small unit sometimes shows its original limits.
  6. zealous
    marked by active interest and enthusiasm
    One newspaper suggested that Miss Keller had been led into writing the book and had been influenced to put certain things into it by zealous friends.
  7. animated
    having life or vigor or spirit
    When Miss Keller speaks, her face is animated and expresses all the modes of her thought—the expressions that make the features eloquent and give speech half its meaning.
  8. trait
    a distinguishing feature of your personal nature
    The trait most characteristic, perhaps, of Miss Keller (and also of Miss Sullivan) is humour.
  9. mischievous
    naughtily or annoyingly playful
    If she does not know the answer to a question, she guesses with mischievous assurance.
  10. whimsical
    determined by chance or impulse rather than by necessity
    Her whimsical and adventuresome spirit puts her so much on her mettle that she makes rather a poor subject for the psychological experimenter.
  11. consequence
    the state of having important effects or influence
    When a psychologist asked her if Miss Keller spelled on her fingers in her sleep, Miss Sullivan replied that she did not think it worth while to sit up and watch, such matters were of so little consequence.
  12. sympathetic
    relating to vibrations occurring as a result of those nearby
    If others are aglow with music, a responding glow, caught sympathetically, shines in her face.
  13. minutely
    in painstaking detail
    Indeed, she feels the movements of Miss Sullivan so minutely that she responds to her moods, and so she seems to know what is going on, even though the conversation has not been spelled to her for some time.
  14. mechanically
    in a machinelike manner; without feeling
    She cannot sing and she cannot play the piano, although, as some early experiments show, she could learn mechanically to beat out a tune on the keys.
  15. tactile
    of or relating to or proceeding from the sense of touch
    Her enjoyment of music, however, is very genuine, for she has a tactile recognition of sound when the waves of air beat against her.
  16. inclined
    having a preference, disposition, or tendency
    When her education became more systematic and she was busy with books, it would have been very easy for Miss Sullivan to let her draw into herself, if she had been so inclined.
  17. inevitably
    in such a manner as could not be otherwise
    If, in the course of a conversation, the friend next to her has ceased for some moments to spell into her hand, the question comes inevitably, "What are you talking about?"
  18. exaggeration
    extravagant embellishment
    True, her view of life is highly coloured and full of poetic exaggeration; the universe, as she sees it, is no doubt a little better than it really is.
  19. accomplishment
    the action of achieving something
    With her varied powers and accomplishments, her sense of touch has not been used enough to develop it very far beyond normal acuteness.
  20. dexterity
    adroitness in using the hands
    Her dexterity is not notable either in comparison with the normal person, whose movements are guided by the eye, or, I am told, with other blind people.
  21. constructive
    tending to improve or promote development
    She has practised no single constructive craft which would call for the use of her hands.
  22. thoroughly
    in an exhaustive manner
    Miss Keller does not as a rule read very fast, but she reads deliberately, not so much because she feels the words less quickly than we see them, as because it is one of her habits of mind to do things thoroughly and well.
  23. aural
    of or pertaining to hearing or the ear
    There is, I am told, tactile memory as well as visual and aural memory.
  24. acute
    demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions
    Miss Keller's acute sense of smell may account, however, in some part for that recognition of persons and things which it has been customary to attribute to a special sense, or to an unusual development of the power that we all seem to have of telling when some one is near.
  25. ascribe
    attribute or credit to
    The question of a special "sixth sense," such as people have ascribed to Miss Keller, is a delicate one.
  26. conception
    an abstract or general idea inferred from specific instances
    Philosophers have tried to find out what was her conception of abstract ideas before she learned language. If she had any conception, there is no way of discovering it now; for she cannot remember, and obviously there was no record at the time.
  27. vitiate
    corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality
    Her mind has neither been made effeminate by the weak and silly literature, nor has it been vitiated by that which is suggestive of baseness.
  28. vigorous
    characterized by forceful and energetic action or activity
    In consequence her mind is not only vigorous, but it is pure.
  29. noble
    having high or elevated character
    She is in love with noble things, with noble thoughts, and with the characters of noble men and women.
  30. aversion
    a feeling of intense dislike
    She still has a childlike aversion to tragedies.
  31. tolerant
    showing or characterized by broad-mindedness
    She is logical and tolerant, most trustful of a world that has treated her kindly.
  32. convention
    orthodoxy from conforming with accepted standards
    So far as she is noticeably different from other people she is less bound by convention.
  33. metaphor
    a figure of speech that suggests a non-literal similarity
    She has the courage of her metaphors and lets them take her skyward when we poor self-conscious folk would think them rather too bookish for ordinary conversation.
  34. adroit
    quick or skillful or adept in action or thought
    She always says exactly what she thinks, without fear of the plain truth; yet no one is more tactful and adroit than she in turning an unpleasant truth so that it will do the least possible hurt to the feelings of others.
  35. solemn
    dignified and somber in manner or character
    Sometimes she gets started on a very solemn preachment.
  36. incorrigible
    impervious to correction by punishment
    Then her teacher calls her an incorrigible little sermonizer, and she laughs at herself.
  37. sober
    dignified and serious in manner or character
    Often, however, her sober ideas are not to be laughed at, for her earnestness carries her listeners with her.
  38. exposition
    a systematic interpretation or explanation of a topic
    Some of the best of her writing, apart from her fanciful and imaginative work, is her exposition in examinations and technical themes, and in some letters which she found it necessary to write to clear up misunderstandings, and which are models of close thinking enforced with sweet vehemence.
  39. idealist
    someone not guided by practical considerations
    She is an optimist and an idealist.
  40. sincerely
    without pretense
    In the diary that she kept at the Wright-Humason School in New York she wrote on October 18, 1894, "I find that I have four things to learn in my school life here, and indeed, in life—to think clearly without hurry or confusion, to love everybody sincerely, to act in everything with the highest motives, and to trust in dear God unhesitatingly."
Created on September 29, 2017 (updated October 5, 2017)

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