Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Annie Sullivan, the teacher of the deaf and blind child Helen Keller. Annie, herself blind during her childhood years, comes to the Keller household at the age of twenty to attempt to teach language to seven-year-old Helen. Her brash self-confidence is a pose covering her deep fear of possible failure in her first position. The clashes of wills between herself and Helen and between herself and the child’s father pique her Irish temper enough to help her through the difficult first months as she attempts merely to discipline Helen into obedience and calm. With tireless perseverance, she repeats the manual alphabet into Helen’s hand, spelling out the name of every object the child can touch and hoping that the child’s keen mind will somehow make the connection between the words spelled and the objects felt.
Captain Arthur Keller
Captain Arthur Keller, a retired Civil War officer who edits a town newspaper in Tuscumbia, Alabama. He is a haughty man in his mid-fifties, apparently accustomed during his military career to instant and unquestioning obedience to his every whim. Disappointment at the seeming cowardice of his teenage son and the terrible physical affliction of his small daughter gnaw at his heart, causing him to be irascible and sharply demanding at times with his family. Underneath, he is a concerned and loving father and husband. He is especially frustrated in his efforts to dominate Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, finding her persistence and inner courage more than a match for his chauvinism....
(The entire section is 647 words.)
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