In The Miracle Worker, what is revealed about Annie's background in her conversation with Anagnos?      

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reader learns a great deal about our Annie even in the very first lines written about her.  In the original stage directions, Annie is already a great foil to Helen:

The chair contains a girl of 20, Annie Sullivan, with a face which in repose is grave and rather obstinate, and w hen active is impudent, combative, twinkling with all the life that is lacking in Helen's, and handsome; there is a crude vitality to her. (17)

The character of Anagnos is significant as well.  He is Annie's counselor at Perkins Institution for the Blind.  He is a "stocky bearded man" who took Annie in when she was only a self-described "drowned rat" from the home.  We learn a lot about Annie's past here.  For example, we learn that Annie goes from not being able to spell her name to being ready to teach others.  We also learn that Annie has no tact and is quite bold, even to her elders.  For as we learn her eyes hurt from the light, Annie claims that what truly hurts her is "My ears, Mr. Anagnos" because of the words Mr. Anagnos is saying about Annie being tactless.  Although Annie humorously admits that even though it is Helen who is used to tantrums, she says "Well, so am I, if I believe all I hear.  Maybe you should warn them" (18).  We also learn that Annie will be paid $25 a month for this first job.  Those at the center are quite fond of Annie despite all her faults, for she is given a garnet ring (and gets choked up as a result).  She is sad to leave, for it is at Perkins that she "learned to live again" (20).  Now Anagnos sends Annie out into the world so she can, in turn, teach Helen how to live.