The Frost King – Helen Keller’s Mistake

A whimsical story about Jack Frost, Santa Clause, Fairies, and colorful autumn leaves is sent by a hopeful little girl, wishing them it to be published.  It is published, and there is a moment of happiness until it is discovered that there is a story just like it already in existence.  Suddenly, a little blind, deaf girl, merely eleven is interrogated and accused  of plagiarism.  The stories I read say she was acquitted by merely one vote; she was one vote away from being a literary criminal.  I don’t think it was fair to put so much pressure on an eleven year old, especially one as unique as Helen Keller.

One of the websites I used to learn more about the case is this one: http://helenkeller.yottadot.org/frost_king.htm .  At the bottom of the page, both stories are printed.  It is obvious that the two stories are the same.  This is obvious plagiarism, right?  Maybe so, because she is passing off someone else’s story as her own, but the way the case was handled was not right.

Just as it is obvious that these stories are the same, so it should also be obvious (as pointed out in this website http://bolesblogs.com/2014/01/27/the-frost-king-defending-helen-keller-and-other-non-superhuman-deaf-blind/) that Helen Keller probably had no idea what she was doing.  Even if she remembered reading the story, did this child of merely eleven have a firm grasp on what plagiarism is?  She most likely did not.  This was the mistake of a child, and should have been treated as such.  Luckily, she was acquitted, but this incident must have haunted her until she died.

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4 thoughts on “The Frost King – Helen Keller’s Mistake

  1. I think that there should definitely be a age at which all kids should know and understand what plagiarism is. People should also be understanding of the situation and the person they are dealing with. Because not every case can be dealt with the same.

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  2. As an 11 year old, she probably thought she was so very clever for thinking up this fantastical story and maybe she thought she had had dreams about it. As a younger child, most certainly had no idea what plagiarism was. I know I had no idea what it was when I was little, it was just a big word that adults used.

    Every case should be dealt with differently and the situation should be a factor into how that case is dealt with.

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  3. Plagiarism is not clear to anyone, let alone an eleven year old girl. As college students we still don’t have a very clear grasp as to what plagiarism is! The fact that her out of all people almost became a literary criminal compared to that of adults who have plagiarized multiple books, or people plagiarizing others’ songs, that is ridiculous. She shouldn’t have been punished the way she was, the least should have been a stern warning and an explanation of what plagiarism was considered back then.

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    • Thats a bunch of nonsense. I bet the little girl was extremely confused and terrified during the whole process. I completely agree with M. Sorenson with the point that she should not have been punished the way she was and instead she should have been simply warned about the seriousness and consequences of plagiarism.

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