Explain Annie's statement: "Obedience is the gateway through which knowledge enters the mind of a child" in The Miracle Worker. 

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story of Helen Keller is one that is so well known, and still very useful today. When Helen's mother wanted to get her daughter real help, instead of having her institutionalized, Annie Sullivan is sent to the Keller home. At first Annie is shocked by the way Helen behaves and the way her parents allow her to behave. Annie believes that she can help Helen, but she needs her parents on board. Annie herself is blind, therefore she knows what Helen needs.

When Annie makes the statement: "Obedience is the gateway through which knowledge enters the mind of a child," it is made after Helen has another one of her tantrums. Helen has lived in total darkness and silence all of her life, so we can see why she is so frustrated, but Annie realizes that if Helen is to have the chance of a "normal" life, the child must learn obedience. Annie knows that when a child is obedient, it is easier to teach them something. If a child stays distracted and continues to misbehave, then that child will never be able to learn. Annie starts the process of teaching Helen to behave and be obedient.

The Miracle Worker is a wonderful teaching tool today. We read this play and realize that even in times when being deaf and blind usually meant a life in an institution, there comes a person like Annie Sullivan who changes the whole world for these kids. That is the true miracle.  

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The Miracle Worker

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