Story Imagery Practice Exercises (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 29, 2011

Practice 3: Story of My Life

Excerpted and adapted from the autobiography of Helen Keller

Read the selection, and then answer the questions that follow.

(1) Helen Keller was born in Alabama in 1880. A childhood illness left her blind and deaf, living in a silent, dark world where she often had frightening fits of anger. Then Anne Sullivan came to be her teacher. Helen not only learned to read, she graduated from college and was an active author and lecturer until her death in 1968. The following is from her autobiography.
(2) I lived, up to the time of the illness, in a tiny house consisting of a large square room and a small one, in which the servant slept. It is a custom in the South to build a small house near the family home as an addition to be used on occasion. Such a house my father built after the Civil War, and when he married my mother they went to live in it.
(3) The little house was completely covered with vines, climbing roses and honeysuckles. It was a favorite meeting place for hummingbirds and bees. The Keller main house, where the family lived, was a few steps from our little one. The homestead was called "Ivy Green" because the house and the surrounding trees and fences were covered with beautiful English ivy. The old-fashioned garden was the paradise of my childhood.
(4) Even in the days before my teacher came, I used to feel along the square stiff boxwood hedges, and, guided by the sense of smell, would find the first violets and lilies in the garden. There, too, after a fit of temper, I went to find comfort and to hide my hot face in the cool leaves and grass. What joy it was to lose myself in that garden, to wander happily until, coming upon a beautiful vine, I recognized it by its leaves and blossoms, and knew it covered the tumble-down summer house at the farther end of the garden! Here, also, were rare sweet flowers called butterfly lilies, because their fragile petals resemble butterflies' wings. But the roses—they were loveliest of all. Never have I found since such roses as those that hung from our porch. They filled the air with fragrance, and in the early morning, all washed by dew, they felt so soft.
(5) They tell me I walked the day I was a year old. I was suddenly attracted by the flickering shadows of leaves that danced in the sunlight on the smooth floor. But these happy days did not last long. One brief spring, filled with the music of robins and mockingbirds, one summer rich in fruit and roses, one autumn of gold and crimson, sped by and left their gifts at the feet of a delighted child.
(6) Then, in the dreary month of February, came the illness, which closed my eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a newborn baby. The doctor thought I could not live. But early one morning, the fever left me as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come. There was great rejoicing in the family that morning. But no one, not even the doctor, knew that I should never see or hear again.
9. How does the author use imagery to help readers "see" her?
a. by telling when her father built the house and when he and her mother moved into it
b. by describing the first time she walked, how she hid when she was angry, and how she felt her way along the hedges
c. by describing the furniture in the two rooms of the house and where she ate her meals
d. by telling what Anne Sullivan looked like and how she taught Helen to read
10. How did the author use sensory words to help readers visualize the setting and events in her life? Give at least two examples from the text for each sense listed.
11. How does the author use imagery to help readers understand what it must be like to be unable to hear or see?
a. by mentioning that a teacher came to help her
b. by comparing it to the unconsciousness of a newborn baby
c. by comparing the garden to when she learned to walk
d. by telling about hearing the mockingbird sing
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