How did Sullivan use Keller to fill a missing piece in her life that was left by her brother in "The Miracle Worker"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Annie is haunted by the death of her little brother Jimmie.  Little more than a child herself, she watched helplessly as he struggled with her in the squalor of an orphan asylum, wracked by the pain of a tubercular hip.  When his illness progressed to the stage where he could no longer walk, he gave up and died, leaving Annie feeling responsible for being powerless to relieve his suffering.  The memory of Jimmie is what makes Annie so obdurate in her battle with Helen.  Determined to make her understand that she can communicate despite her handicaps, Annie refuses to give up on Helen, promising,

"No.  I won't let you be...The world is not something to be missed.  I know.  And I won't let you be till I show you it.  Till I put it in your hand" (Act II).

Annie is tormented by the memory of what she couldn't do for her brother.  His death has left an aching void in her life.  To make amends, she is determined to do for Helen what she couldn't do for Jimmie.

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller becomes an adopted sister that she succeeds in helping, thereby replacing her lost brother. 

Helen helps to fill an empty space for Miss Sullivan at the loss of her brother, Jimmie, who she was unable to help and feels guilty about being unable to protect. Her role in Helen Keller's development is a very satisfying experience for Miss Sullivan.

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The Miracle Worker

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