Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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How do Annie's flashbacks about her brother relate to her work with Helen in the play The Miracle Worker?

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Annie compares her own experience in an asylum for the poor with Helen’s home life. When Captain Keller contemplates sending Helen to an asylum for the blind, fearing that she will never be able to learn to communicate on any meaningful level, Annie tells him and Kate what exactly an asylum means. The residents were criminals or “moral degenerates.” She and her brother Jimmy played among the corpses in the morgue because there was no other place to play. Jimmy died in the asylum after just a few months there, and she lived there for several years alone. She relates her experiences with her lack of education, when she begged a visitor to send her to a school for the blind. She herself is an example of how much a person can learn if just given the chance. Such a life Helen might be able to have if the Kellers would just let her continue to teach Helen in the way that she knows will be effective, separate from the interference of the family. Captain Keller agrees, giving her a time limit. Annie, desperate to save Helen from an asylum, agrees to the conditions.

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