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The letter A - Summary | Major English Grade XI

Christy Brown

The letter A - Summary | Major English Grade XI

The letter A

In his autobiography “The Letter A” Christy Brown describes how he overcame his massive handicap with his will-power, firm determination and with the continuous effort and love of his Mother.

Christy Brown was born as the tenth child in a family of twenty-two. When he was four months old, his head would constantly fall backwards whenever his mother tried to feed him. As he grew older, his hands were clenched tightly and twisted unnecessarily. He could not even hold the nipple of the bottle because he could not freely open or close his mouth. At six months he could only sit by resting his back on the mountain of pillows. All these signs alerted his mother, so she consulted doctors.

The doctors told her that he was both mentally and physically defective. But she had a firm belief that her son may be physically weak but not mentally retarded. She was a woman of firm determination who loved Christy dearly as her other normal children. Filled by true motherly love, she tried to take care of him by herself.

Even at the age of five, he could neither sit nor speak. His body parts were useless. His mother would show him pictures of animals and flowers and ask him to repeat them after her. She hoped that Christy would at least learn and communicate with other people. Even when her relatives told her not to take the boy seriously, she was determined to prove that her son was not mentally retarded.

One day a wonderful event changed his life completely. He was attracted by the yellow piece of chalk that his brother and sister were writing within the black slates. He unconsciously grabbed the chalk out of his sister’s hand with his left foot. He held it tightly between his toes and wrote carelessly on the slate. Every family member was curious. When his mother came and saw this, she knelt before him and drew a single letter “A” on the floor in front of him and asked him to copy it. He tried it with the chalk. It produced a crooked line. He tried again and drew two sides of the letter. The chalk broke out. He wanted to give up and throw the chalk. But due to his mother’s encouragement, he gathered his strength to write the letter A. When he wrote the letter A, his mother knew that it was a sign of intelligence and not just an imitative gesture because Christy had done it with intense effort. So, tears rolled out of her eyes. This had opened his road to mental freedom. He could express his desires and thoughts through words. Thus he was able to break the wall between him and other people.

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