The Story of My Life Helen Keller


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From The Story of My Life

Helen Keller

One day, while I was playing with my new doll, Miss Sullivan put my big rag doll into my lap also, spelled "d-o-l-l" and tried to make me understand that "d-o-l-l" applied to both. Earlier in the day we had had a tussle over the words "m-u-g" and "w-a-t-e-r." Miss Sullivan had tried to impress it upon me that "m-u-g" is mug and that "w-a-t-e-r" is water, but I persisted in confounding the two. In despair she had dropped the subject for the time, only to renew it at the first opportunity. I became impatient at her repeated attempts and, seizing the new doll, I dashed it upon the floor. I was keenly delighted when I felt the fragments of the broken doll at my feet. Neither sorrow nor regret followed my passionate outburst. I had not loved the doll. In the still, dark world in which I lived there was no strong sentiment of tenderness. I felt my teacher sweep the fragments to one side of the hearth, and I had a sense of satisfaction that the cause of my discomfort was removed. She brought me my hat, and I knew I was going out into the warm sunshine. This thought, if a wordless sensation may be called a thought, made me hop and skip with pleasure.

We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten–a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away. *

I left the well-house eager to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me. On entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken. I felt my way to the hearth and picked up the pieces. I tried vainly to put them together. Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.

I learned a great many new words that day. I do not remember what they all were; but I do know that mother, father, sister, teacher were among them–words that were to make the world blossom for me, "like Aaron's rod, with flowers." It would have been difficult to find a happier child than I was as I lay in my crib at the close of the eventful day and lived over the joys it had brought me, and for the first time longed for a new day to come.

  1. Based on the information in the excerpt, which of the following best describes Miss Sullivan?

  1. She lashes out at her student and takes each set back personally

  2. She has the patience of a saint, never showing the least discouragement.

  3. Though she gets frustrated with Helen’s progress, she does not give up.

  4. She insists on sticking to her plan, even when it clearly does not work.

  1. Why does Keller say she was delighted when she realized she had broken her doll?

  1. She had never liked the doll, and would at least be able to replace it.

  2. She had made the doll the object of her frustration with the lesson.

  3. She wanted to get back at her parents for their failure to protect her.

  4. She finally understood what the meaning of “b-r-o-k-e-n” was.

  1. In the first paragraph, what is the “wordless sensation” that makes Keller “hop and skip with pleasure”?

  1. The knowledge that she will soon be in the warm sunshine

  2. The feeling of water on her hand

  3. The feeling of the broken doll pieces under her feet.

  4. The sense of approval from Miss Sulivan

  1. Which of the following lines from the excerpt best captures the significance of the event?

  1. “In that still dark world in which I lived there was no strong sentiment of tenderness”

  2. “That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!”

  3. “There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.”

  4. “…for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.”

  1. Why does Keller most likely refer to the doll again at the end of the excerpt?

  1. because it happened to be the first thing she noticed when she returned to the house.

  2. because her guilt over the broken doll has followed her throughout her life.

  3. to show that she could now spell the word “d-o-l-l”

  4. to dramatically illustrated the profound change that has taken place inside her

  1. What does Keller most likely mean when she says “This was because I started to see everything with the strange, new sight that had to come to me” (paragraph 3)?

  1. She is starting to get her vision back.

  2. She can see future events, although she cannot communicate them.

  3. She is referring to her new ability to have thoughts involving words.

  4. She is picturing the scene in which she broke her doll.

  1. In the last paragraph, Keller says, “like Aaron’s rod, with flowers.” What kind of literary device is this?

  1. Allusion

  2. Personification

  3. Alliteration

  4. Parallelism

  1. Based on the passage the word
    sentiment means

  1. Feeling

  2. Numbness

  3. Humor

  4. Anger

  1. Based on the passage the word barriers means

  1. Things that cause amnesia

  2. Things that create bad feelings

  3. Things that get in the way of doing something

  4. Things that make one sick

  1. The author uses the first two lines of the third paragraph to establish.
  1. Helen’s feelings of frustration of not learning Miss Sullivan’s lessons.

  2. Helen’s disappointment in the world around her.

  3. Helen’s desire to fix the doll that she had broken

  4. Helen’s desire to learn the names of everything around her.

  1. The main idea of the entire passage is

  1. A young girl breaks her doll, and is very upset.

  2. People with disabilities can live normal lives.

  3. Through the attainment of language a young girl’s perspective of the world changes.

  4. Teachers are people who push students to achieve.

  1. Which of the following best states the theme of the selection?

  1. It is language/words that makes us human and gives us understanding.

  2. Through great teachers we can become great people.

  3. We do not appreciate what we have until it is gone.

  4. Age helps us become better people.


As explorers such as Columbus and Magellan sailed the oceans of the world, they brought back information about new continents and their coastlines. Mapmakers used the information to make the first reliable world maps. As people studied the maps, they were impressed by the similarity of the continental shorelines on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. The continents looked as though they would fit together, like the parts of a giant jigsaw puzzle. Were the continents once part of the same huge landmass? If so, what caused this landmass to break apart? What caused the continents to move to their present locations? These questions eventually led to the formulation of hypotheses.

In 1912, a German scientist, Alfred Wegener, proposed a hypothesis called continental drift, which stated that the continents had moved. Wegener hypothesized that the continents once formed part of a single giant landmass, which he named Pangaea, meaning “all lands.” In addition to the similarities in the coastlines of the continents, Wegener soon found other evidence to support his hypothesis. If the continents had once been joined, research should uncover fossils of the same plants and animals in areas that had been adjoining parts of Pangaea. Wegener knew that identical fossil remains had already been found in both eastern South America and western Africa. The age and type of rocks in coastal regions of widely separated areas, such as western Africa and eastern Brazil, matched closely.

Despite the evidence supporting the hypothesis of continental drift, Wegener’s ideas met with strong opposition. The conclusive evidence that Wegener sought to support his hypothesis was finally discovered in 1947. As scientists examined rock samples that they brought up from the ocean floor, they made a startling discovery. None of the oceanic rocks were more than 150 million years old. The oldest continental rocks are about 4 billion years old. Here, at last, were the discoveries that Wegener had sought. They provided the scientific evidence he needed to formulate the theory of continental drift.

  1. What is the theory of continental drift?

    1. The continents once formed a single land mass but drifted apart over eons.

    2. Fossils from one continent can migrate to another continent.

    3. Rocks on the sea floor are younger than rocks on the continents.

    4. The continents will eventually fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

  1. When did people start to notice that continental coastlines on either side of the Atlantic bore striking similarities?

    1. During biblical times

    2. Since Columbus’s time

    3. In 1912

    4. In 1947

  1. How does the age of rocks on the ocean floor support the theory of continental drift?

    1. Since the oceanic rocks are younger than continental rock, they must have formed after the continents drifted apart.

    2. Since the oceanic rocks are older than the continental rock, they must have been submerged until Pangaea broke up.
    3. Since the oceanic rocks are older than the continental rock, a meteorite must have deposited them there.

    4. Heat released from the formation of oceanic rock must have caused the continents to split apart.

  1. Based on the information in the article, how is a hypothesis different from a theory?

    1. An hypothesis is always met with strong opposition.

    2. An hypothesis is supported by fossil records, carbon dating, and rock samples.

    3. A theory eventually leads to the formulation of a hypothesis.

    4. A theory is supported by conclusive evidence.

  1. Which of the following pieces of evidence does not support the theory of continental drift?

    1. The similarities of the coastlines on either side of the Atlantic

    2. The vastly different plant and animal species on different continents

    3. The age of rock on the ocean floor

    4. The identical fossil remains found in eastern South America and western Africa

  1. The purpose of this passage is mainly to

    1. Persuade readers that continental drift is a reasonable theory

    2. Explain how continental drift occurs

    3. Explain how the theory of continental drift was developed

    4. Point to the need for further research on the topic of continental drift

  1. The main idea of the first paragraph is

    1. Discuss the contributions of explorers such as Columbus and Magellan

    2. Explain the confusion of mapmakers

    3. Introduce the theory of continental drift

    4. Define the meaning of Pangaea

  1. Based on the passage, the word adjoining means

    1. Identical

    2. Detached

    3. Separate

    4. Touching

  1. What year was the evidence to support Wegener’s hypothesis discovered?

    1. 1912

    2. 1947

    3. 150 million years ago

    4. 4 billion years ago

  1. Based on the passage, the word formulate means

    1. Create

    2. Overturn

    3. Confuse

    4. Abort

From Dream to Disaster

On a calm, starry night in 1912, the largest ship that had ever been built struck an iceberg. In less than three hours the ship plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The first voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic had ended, and more than 1,500 people lost their lives.
When the Titanic began the voyage from England to New York, many people on board believed the massive ship was unsinkable. Passengers thought they were sailing on the safest ship afloat, a masterpiece of technology. Strong and sleek, the Titanic was constructed of forty-six thousand tons of steel. It had a hull with a double bottom, unlike most ships. For extra safety the hull was divided into sixteen watertight compartments, which were separated by locked doors. Water could flood four of the compartments, and the ship would still float. The ship’s designers thought the worst collision would only damage two compartments. What series of events could have doomed the mighty Titanic?

The Titanic set sail on April 10, 1912. Four days later, the ship’s radio operators received seven warnings from other ships about icebergs in the area. The Titanic had no procedure for relaying messages from the radio operators to the captain. The warning messages were received by several different radio operators. Not all of the messages reached Captain Smith. The night of April 14, the Titanic steamed ahead almost at full speed.

Late that evening, the Titanic arrived in the radio range of Canada. For the first time, passengers could send messages to their families in the United States. The last, most important iceberg warning came at 10:55 p.m., but the radio operator was busy sending passengers’ personal messages. He never reported the iceberg warning to the captain. Lookouts were posted in the crow’s-nest high above the ship. Usually they had binoculars, but that night they did not. They strained their eyes searching the cold, moonless dark. The sea was calm and silent. In a rougher sea, they might have spotted waves splashing against the enormous, white iceberg and called out a warning in time.

At around 11:40 p.m., a lookout rang the alarm bell and telephoned the officers on the bridge. “Iceberg right ahead!” he yelled. The first officer ordered the crew to turn the ship away from the iceberg, and then he switched the doors closed in the watertight compartments. If the ship had turned away at full speed, it might have missed the iceberg. Instead, the first officer sent a signal to stop and reverse the engines, which slowed the ship down. The right side of the Titanic scraped against the iceberg. The jolt was slight, but the damage was serious. Ice rammed against the seams of the hull where rivets held together the steel plates. The rivets loosened and popped out. The plates separated, and water began pouring into the hull. The engineers turned on the pumps right away, but the sea flooded in too fast for the pumps to keep up. The doors of the watertight compartments were truly watertight, but the walls between the compartments were open at the tops. When one compartment flooded, water spilled over into the next one. The compartments resembled an ice cube tray tilted into a sink of water. It was only a matter of time before all the compartments flooded, and the ship nose-dived into the deep.

The Titanic carried more than 2,200 passengers but only enough lifeboats for 1,178 people. Even with the lifeboats, only around 700 people survived the disaster. The crew sent out distress signals by radio and fired white rockets into the night sky. The one ship close enough to help, the Californian, sat less than twenty miles away.
Unfortunately, its operator had turned off the radio for the night and had gone to sleep. The sinking of the Titanic horrified the world. In 1913, the first International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea created new rules. The rules required ships to carry enough lifeboats for every person on board and to hold lifeboat drills on every voyage. Ships had to keep a radio watch twenty-four hours a day, every day. The legacy of the Titanic became one not only of death and loss, but of life and safety for all who sail the ocean waves.

23. Which of the following facts is not presented in the first paragraph?

a) The Titanic was the largest ship that had ever been built.

b) The Titanic took less than three hours to sink after hitting an iceberg.

c) More than 1,500 people lost their lives in the disaster.

d) The ship’s captain was a man named Smith.

24. Which of the following describes one of the ship’s safety features?

a) The ship was stocked with lifeboats.

b) The ship’s hull was divided into sixteen watertight compartments.

c) The watertight compartments were open at the top.

d) The ship had one radio operator dedicated to emergency communication and another who sent guests’ messages.

25. Why didn’t the captain receive all the radio messages?

a) The ship had no procedure for getting messages from the radio operators to the captain.

b) The captain was busy entertaining guests in the dining room.

c) The radio operator on duty that night had no training in Morse code.

d) The captain repeatedly refused the radio operators’ attempts to give him the messages.

26. According to the writer, which of the following is one cause for the collision with the iceberg?

a) The first captain failed to have the crew close the doors in the watertight compartments.

b) The lookouts in the crow’s nests never saw the iceberg because the ocean was too choppy.

c) Instead of turning the ship at full speed, the first officer sent the order to stop and reverse the engines.

d) No warnings about icebergs were received by the ship’s radio operators.
27. To what does the writer compare the compartments of the ship’s hull?

a) an ice cube tray tilted in a sink of water

b) an airplane going into a nose-dive

c) other marvels of twentieth-century engineering

d) ice cubes floating in a bowl of water
28. Which of the following unstated causes most likely contributed to the Titanic disaster?

a) an enemy submarine in the area

b) the overconfidence of those in charge of passenger safety

c) a collision with another luxury passenger liner

d) the complete lack of experience of the majority of the crew
29. According to the article, what was one effect of the sinking of the Titanic?

a) Too many lifeboats weighted down the ship as its deck titled toward the water.

b) The ship’s hull filled with water, in spite of the watertight compartments.

c) Trans-Atlantic ship travel declined over the next several decades.

d) New international safety regulations were developed.

30. The main idea of the last paragraph is

a) The Titanic sinking created new rules and regulations for other ships so this tragedy would not happen again

b) The legacy of the Titanic became one of death and loss

c) The sinking of the Titanic horrified the world

d) The Titanic sank because it did not follow the rules and regulations that were already created

31. What is the MAIN purpose of this selection?

a) to tell a Titanic survivor’s version of events

b) to persuade readers to think twice before getting on a ship

c) to describe the sinking of the Titanic and its consequences

d) to express the author’s sense of sorrow
32. How do the first five words help set the mood for the first part of the selection?

a) The words create a strong contrast with the impending tragedy.

b) The words describe both the night and the people’s attitudes about the Titanic.

c) The words show that the story is just a fairy tale with fairy tale characters.

d) The words show that the weather is nice so the passengers are in a good mood.
33. What is the effect of including the direct quotation “Iceberg right ahead!” ?

a) to emphasize the truthfulness of the author’s account

b) to show that the author has conducted serious research

c) to build suspense for the readers

d) to suggest that the lookout had not done his job properly
34. According to the selection, which statement about the sinking of Titanic is MOST likely true?

a) The sinking was the most important event in the twentieth century.

b) The sinking made many people choose air travel rather than ocean travel.

c) The sinking actually helped make ocean travel safer.

d) The sinking caused ocean travelers to use routes where they would not see icebergs.
35. The author uses the word unsinkable to show that people felt the Titanic was
a) substandard

b) invincible

c) powerful

d) cold

36. The main idea of the passage is

a) More than 1,500 people lost their lives

b) There were a series of events that caused the sinking of the Titanic and it could have been prevented

c) Only around 700 people survived the disaster

d) On April 14, 1912 the Titanic sank on a voyage from England to New York

Answer Key:









10. d

11. c

12. a

13. a

14. b

15. a

16. d

17. b

18. c

19. c

20. d

21. b

22. a



25. a

26. c

27. a

28. b

29. d

30. a

31. c

32. a

33. c

34. c

35. b

36. b

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