The Story of My Life, Helen Keller, 1905
1. The beginning of my life was simple and much like every other little life. I came, I saw, I conquered,
2. as the first baby in the family always does. There was the usual amount of discussion as to a name
3. for me. The first baby in the family was not to be lightly named, every one was emphatic about that.
4. My father suggested the name of Mildred Campbell, an ancestor whom he highly esteemed, and he
5. declined to take any further part in the discussion. My mother solved the problem by giving it as
6. her wish that I should be called after her mother, whose maiden name was Helen Everett.
7. But in the excitement of carrying me to church my father lost the name on the way, very naturally,
8. since it was one in which he had declined to have a part. When the minister asked him for it, he just
9. remembered that it had been decided to call me after my grandmother, and he gave her name
10. as Helen Adams.
11. I am told that while I was still in long dresses I showed many signs of an eager, self-asserting disposition.
12. Everything that I saw other people do I insisted upon imitating. At six months I could pipe out
13. "How d'ye", and one day I attracted every one's attention by saying "Tea, tea, tea" quite plainly.
14. Even after my illness I remembered one of the words I had learned in these early months.
15. It was the word "water", and I continued to make some sound for that word after all other speech
16. was lost. I ceased making the sound "wah-wah" only when I learned to spell the word.
17. They tell me I walked the day I was a year old. My mother had just taken me out of the bath-tub and
18. was holding me in her lap, when I was suddenly attracted by the flickering shadows of leaves that
19. danced in the sunlight on the smooth floor. I slipped from my mother's lap and almost ran toward
20. them. The impulse gone, I fell down and cried for her to take me up in her arms.
21. These happy days did not last long. One brief spring, musical with the song of robin and mocking-bird,
22. one summer rich in fruit and roses, one autumn of gold and crimson sped by and left their gifts at the
23. feet of an eager, delighted child. Then, in the dreary month of February, came the illness which closed
24. my eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a new-born baby. They called it acute
25. congestion of the stomach and brain. The doctor thought I could not live. Early one morning, however,
26. the fever left me as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come. There was great rejoicing in the family
27. that morning, but no one, not even the doctor, knew that I should never see or hear again.
28. I fancy I still have confused recollections of that illness. I especially remember the tenderness with
29. which my mother tried to soothe me in my waking hours of fret and pain, and the agony and
30. bewilderment with which I awoke after a tossing half sleep, and turned my eyes, so dry and hot, to the
31. wall away from the once-loved light, which came to me dim and yet more dim each day. But, except for
32. these fleeting memories, if, indeed, they be memories, it all seems very unreal, like a nightmare.
33. Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been
34. different, until she came -- my teacher -- who was to set my spirit free. But during the first
35. nineteen months of my life I had caught glimpses of broad, green fields, a luminous sky, trees and
36. flowers which the darkness that followed could not wholly blot out. If we have once seen, "the day is
37. ours, and what the day has shown."
Keller, Helen. "Chapter I." The Story of My Life. New York City: DOUBLEDAY, PAGE, 1905. N. pag. UPenn Digital Library. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
The PRIMARY purpose of the fourth paragraph, beginning with "These happy days did not last long" is to