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1) In The Miracle Worker, how does Helen's reaction to Annie, when she realizes her...

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Doc231994 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 10, 2013 at 3:10 AM via web

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1) In The Miracle Worker, how does Helen's reaction to Annie, when she realizes her parents have left her with Annie, reveal the challenge that Annie has taken on?

2) When Mr. Keller expects his wife to fire Annie, what does this say about his character? What does Kate's reaction to Mr. Keller say about her character? 3) During the breakfast table scene, why is it imoortant that Annie assert her authority ? If she allowed Helen to continue her behavior, how would this affect Helen's ability to learn from Annie ?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:45 AM (Answer #1)

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The Miracle Worker reveals the difficulties and the progress of Helen Keller after Annie Sullivan comes to the Keller's home to try and improve Helen's quality of life. Helen is a spoiled child, obstinate and, because of her family's feelings of pity towards her, is allowed to behave any way she wants. She has no manners and dislikes Annie immensely to the point that she locked Annie in her room shortly after her arrival, causing great embarrassment to Annie and great scepticism from the Keller family.

Annie is determined to help Helen and won't give up, even when urged to by James, Helen's older half-brother. She has struggled, spending years in an almshouse and being partially-sighted herself and tells James " If I’d ever once thought like that, I’d be dead!" Being left alone with Helen, forcing her to rely only on Annie is the first step towards breaking the pity-cycle and teaching Helen to trust Annie. 

Helen has no idea where she is but is pleased when she finds her doll and other familiar toys. She soon searches for her mother but is prevented by Annie and, after her parents have left, she becomes "like an imprisoned bird" as she desperately gropes her way around the room " touching her cheek in a growing panic." Helen always touches her cheek to indicate that she wants her mother. 

Helen flies into an uncontrolled rage like " a little tornado incarnate," and Annie's touch does not comfort Helen intensifying her "paroxysm of rage." Annie has been fully confident that she can help Helen but after watching Helen's display she wonders, "Two weeks....What did I get into now?" This clearly indicates the challenge that Annie has accepted. 

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