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  • Impact of Literary Elements in “The Day Language Came into My Life”

    On March 3, 1887, Anne Mansfield Sullivan changed Hellen Keller’s life. At eighteen months old, Keller was very ill and lost her sight and hearing. For about the next five years of her life, she struggled every day living her life in confusion and wonder, but Sullivan taught her a language and Keller remembers it as “The Day Language Came into My Life”. One day she felt that something abnormal was about to happen, and as her teacher approached her with a doll and spelled the word onto Keller’s hand. She imitated the letters correctly and was filled with joy when she understood what was happening and how this was about to change her life. From there on, she learned new words and was eager to learn more. In “The Day Language Came into My Life,” there are literary elements that help develop and provide insight to the story, helping the reader understand what Keller has gone through, such as imagery, personification, and simile.

    Imagery is one of the most used and important literary elements throughout the story. It greatly impacts the story line and visually describes what Keller is going through and how she is feeling. It is a pathway between the writer and the reader to set the scene for a mental image of what the setting looks and feels like. Keller uses imagery in first person so it makes the reader feel as if they are a part of the story. “My fingers lingered almost unconsciously on the familiar leaves and blossoms which had just come forth to greet the sweet southern spring.” (lines 7-8). She is describing what she is touching physically and what the area and environment feels like around her to make the reader feel like they are a part of the story. Keller uses imagery again to explain what was happening around her. “I felt approaching footsteps. I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother. Someone took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and, more than all things else, to love me.” (lines 16-18). To demonstrate the use of imagery, Keller writes exactly about what she feels and does in the moment, physically and mentally. By using her senses of touch and feeling, writing about them gives a deep image to the readers of what is happening in the story. 

    Personification is used when a human characteristic and quality are associated with an inanimate object. It is used to personify an object and make the reader relate to something not living and understand what is being described. When Keller first started to recognize what was happening in her life, she could not understand and described it as, “Anger and bitterness had preyed upon me continually for weeks…” (line 9). The feelings of anger and bitterness are not actually hunted and tracked down towards Keller, but they were creeped up on and caught feelings inside her. Since Keller was not able to speak and say how she is feeling, it is explained as, “ …the worldless cry of my soul…” (line 15). Since Keller could not understand and form words it is referred to as a “wordless cry”, and it personifies her soul. A soul does not actually cry but giving it that effect dramatizes how confused and hopeless she felt. Personification keeps a reader attentive and curious about reading a story. 

    Similes help the reader recognize feelings and situations better by comparing them to something else such as a common and more familiar situation. A lot of people do not understand the life that Keller lived through during her young ages, so she compares it to a somewhat common and vivid event to the reader. “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? I was like that ship before my education began. Only I was without compass or sounding-line and had no way of knowing how near the harbor was.” (lines 11-15). Keller is describing what her life felt like before language came into her life. She relates her feeling of not knowing what is going on and being anxious to the sound of the ship and being in the darkness. Since having a compass while lost will help your chances of getting to your location, Keller compares her feeling of being lost but without a compass and not knowing what to do. Using similes in stories help readers realize events by comparing them to common knowledge. 

    Keller’s experiences and thoughts told in “The Day Language Came into My Life” are emphasized through the literary elements of imagery, personification, and simile. They are placed throughout the story to keep the reader invested and engaged. 

    Works cited

    Keller, Helen. “The Day that Language Came into My Life.” The Story of My Life

  • Learning How to Be a Leader

    In my junior and senior years of high school, I was a society leader. At my school we have a big field day, and there are competitive events throughout the school year to add on points and raise all the members’ energy to get excited for the actual day. There are four teams that the whole school is divided into, and the team with the most points on the society day on the last day of school wins. People like to compare it to the Hogwarts houses in Harry Potter. 

    I remember being appointed to this position at the beginning of my junior year. Even though my sister was one of the senior leaders, I was not expecting to get picked. As I was walking down the road at our school after my last class, my sister and the other senior leader walked up to me and started to silly string me. Being covered in silly string, I was so happy, surprised, and excited in the moment, but started to get a little nervous a while after. I knew it was a lot of work and very time consuming since I saw my sister go through it the year before. 

    I was already a part of some clubs, but this leadership position was going to be my favorite. Being a junior leader for the society was mostly giving ideas, helping organize, and being a mentor to the senior leaders. Our main purpose was to help sort and organize people into events, but it was a very valuable time to learn and prepare for senior leader. 

    When I thought of myself as a leader before this opportunity I was very shy and did not often speak up for myself if I did not like an idea because I was scared, so I just went with the flow of what other people wanted. One formative experience I had where I took charge and changed some ideas was when we had to paint a banner with our team for a homecoming event. All the leaders came up with a design or something to include on the banner and we collaborated ideas and painted it together. I remember looking at the completed banner and did not like the way it looked, nothing went together and it was very messy. As soon as I saw it, I spoke up to say I did not like it and we have to change it and everyone agreed to make a new and better one. From that point on I was not afraid to speak up about a situation, because instead of maybe getting last place in the banner contest, we got second. Little situations like that enhanced my confidence communicating with a team and design skills.

    Although our team finished in last place at the end of both years, we placed first in a few small events throughout the year. All of our hard work going into everything was never unnoticed by faculty or team members. I was very grateful to take part in the position and learn so many things about leadership that I could take with me and use in the future.