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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:00:26
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Chapter 5 Literary Style

When she referred to our conversation again, it was to ask, "Why did not Jesus go away, so that His enemies could not find Him?" She thought the miracles of Jesus very strange. When told that Jesus walked on the sea to meet His disciples, she said, decidedly, "It does not mean WALKED, it means SWAM." When told of the instance in which Jesus raised the dead, she was much perplexed, saying, "I did not know life could come back into the dead body!"

I am convinced that Helen's use of English is due largely to her familiarity with books. She often reads for two or three hours in succession, and then lays aside her book reluctantly. One day as we left the library I noticed that she appeared more serious than usual, and I asked the cause. "I am thinking how much wiser we always are when we leave here than we are when we come," was her reply.

How far Miss Sullivan carried this process of refinement and selection is evident from the humorous comment of Dr. Bell, that she made her pupil a little old woman, too widely different from ordinary children in her maturity of thought. When Dr. Bell said this he was arguing his own case. For it was Dr. Bell who first saw the principles that underlie Miss Sullivan's method, and explained the process by which Helen Keller absorbed language from books.

She was much pleased with the letter, and after she had asked all the questions she could think of, she took it to her mother, who was sewing in the hall, and read it to her. It was amusing to see her hold it before her eyes and spell the sentences out on her fingers, just as I had done. Afterward she tried to read it to Belle (the dog) and Mildred. Mrs. Keller and I watched the nursery comedy from the door. Belle was sleepy, and Mildred inattentive. Helen looked very serious, and, once or twice, when Mildred tried to take the letter, she put her hand away impatiently. Finally Belle got up, shook herself, and was about to walk away, when Helen caught her by the neck and forced her to lie down again. In the meantime Mildred had got the letter and crept away with it. Helen felt on the floor for it, but not finding it there, she evidently suspected Mildred; for she made the little sound which is her "baby call." Then she got up and stood very still, as if listening with her feet for Mildred's "thump, thump." When she had located the sound, she went quickly toward the little culprit and found her chewing the precious letter! This was too much for Helen. She snatched the letter and slapped the little hands soundly. Mrs. Keller took the baby in her arms, and when we had succeeded in pacifying her, I asked Helen, "What did you do to baby?" She looked troubled, and hesitated a moment before answering. Then she said: "Wrong girl did eat letter. Helen did slap very wrong girl." I told her that Mildred was very small, and didn't know that it was wrong to put the letter in her mouth.

During the past three years Helen has continued to make rapid progress in the acquisition of language. She has one advantage over ordinary children, that nothing from without distracts her attention from her studies.

In the first place, the fountains of literature are fed by two vast worlds, one of action, one of thought, by a succession of creations in the one and of changes in the other. New experiences and events call forth new ideas and stir men to ask questions unthought of before, and seek a definite answer in the depths of human knowledge.

Chapter 5


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