Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Literary Response to Passage from The Story of My Life by Helen Keller Essay

Literary Response to Passage from The Story of My Life by Helen Keller - Essay Example In literary works, however, where different perceptions, feelings and moods are to be conveyed alongside pure facts, analogies can be used to make the text more interesting, memorable and evocative for the reader. In this case the analogy of the ship is a good example of how the author uses language to represent emotional as well as factual elements in her life story. The passage occurs on the first page of Chapter IV in the book, and relates the child Helen Keller’s anticipation of meeting her teacher Anne Sullivan. It starts with a direct question to the reader: â€Å"Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog†¦Ã¢â‚¬  and it aims to represent the loss of human senses and the feeling of helplessness that this brings. In English the term â€Å"at sea† can be used literally, to mean undergoing a voyage on water, or figuratively, meaning that someone has lost his or her bearings, and is drifting far from land. Since it is difficult to imagine being blind and deaf as an actual experience, the analogy of standing on a ship in fog serves to illustrate what it feels like. Inanimate objects like the ship, take on human characteristics: â€Å"the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way†¦Ã¢â‚¬  Just as the ship has â€Å"no way of knowing how near the harbor was† so Helen Keller had no idea what was about to happen to her. The ship is personified here, and this encourages the reader to step into the role of a ship heading for harbor. It is clear that Helen Keller’s imagination is doing its best to make up for the lack of sights and sounds to give clues to what is happening all around her. In the middle of the passage the author explains what the analogy of the ship means: â€Å"I was like that ship before my education began.† By using this statement as a key to the text, the reader can figure out that the ship is Helen Keller, the harbor is the safety and security that she found in the teachings and loving care that h er teacher brought her. A very interesting part of the analogy is found in the expression â€Å"a tangible white darkness shut you in.† This is an unusual expression because it makes reference to the human senses in an apparently contradictory way. Darkness is not normally something that you can touch, and so the word â€Å"tangible† is out of place, and furthermore, the adjective â€Å"white† is not usually used to describe darkness. This collocation sounds wrong, because the whole point about darkness is that it is precisely not white. Helen Keller deliberately places these contradictory words together because she is trying to find a way of describing the phenomenon of being deaf and blind. By mixing the sense of touch with an unusual use of color, she is emphasizing the way that a deaf and blind person uses other senses to imagine the way that the world is. This is a very inventive usage, and shows the author’s literary skill. The point is further expa nded when she links the word â€Å"light† with the word â€Å"love† in the phrase â€Å"the light of love.† The darkness she suffered as a child was also a spiritual one, and the analogy of a ship sailing into a harbour full of light conveys a sense of arrival to safety after a long spell of being afraid of the unknown. By addressing the reader directly, and using the ship analogy, Helen Keller depersonalizes her own suffering, but at the same time conveys the emotions she felt, and this is a very skilful use of the technique of analogy.

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