How do Annie and Helen feel about each other at the end of The Miracle Worker? How is this made clear?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How do the two main characters feel on the final page of one of the most emotional exchanges in a play ever?  For the first time, love exists between them.  Helen is desperately thankful, and Annie is finally in love with her prize pupil.  (This is in direct contrast to earlier in the play where Helen feels only contempt and frustration in regards to Annie.  Annie, in turn, feels no love for this spoiled child.)

Now for the evidence (which is actually very hard to give without relating the entire last scene of the play).  With the help of the water pump and the water, Helen has finally grasped that these finger signs that Annie has been doing over and over again actually stand for the thing she is touching.  Helen begs for more and more before Annie calls for Kate and the Captain.  They clutch her tightly, but then comes some evidence of Helen's new preference for Annie, for Helen wants only to leave their grasp:

Then Helen gropes, feels nothing, turns all around, pulls free, and comes with both hands groping, to find Annie.  She encounters Annie's thighs, Annie kneels to her, Helen's hadn pats Annie's cheek impatiently, points a finger, and waits; and Annie spells into it:  Teacher. (120)

It is not Helen's parents, full of pity, who have opened up this glorious door for Helen.  It is Annie, Helen's teacher.  Helen's parents try to embrace her again, but Helen will have none of it, reaching only for the keys to give to Annie, . . . the very same ones that she stole away at the beginning of the play.  Further, Helen's thanks is expressed in another way, through Kate:

Helen spells a word to her.  Kate comprehends it, their first act of verbal communication, and she can hardly utter the word aloud, in wonder, gratitude, and deprivation; it is a moment in which she simultaneously finds and loses a child.

Kate:  Teacher? (121)

The great love between Annie and Helen finally bursts forth then:

Then she holds out the keys and places them in Annie's hand.  For a moment neither of them moves.  Then Helen slides into Annie's arms, and lifting away her smoked glasses, kisses her on the cheek.  Annie gathers her in. . . . She clutches the child to her, tight this time, not spelling, whispering into her hair

Annie:  I, love, Helen.  Forever, and--ever. (122)

mkcapen1 | Student

In the movie based on the play The Miracle Worker Helen has not enjoyed the presence of Anne Sullivan.  Helen had been able to control the people around her and the household through tantrums to get her needs met.    She knows she can not teach her the words unless Helen learns how to behave.  Helen had no means of communication other than by grabbing things or throwing things. 

Anne steps into Helen's world and begins to try and teach Helen how to spell using sign language.  Helen resists the lessons and struggles with Anne.  Anne arranges to spend two weeks with Helen at a cottage isolated from the family.  During the time Helen has to depend on Anne.

When they return to the family environment, Helen resumes her misbehavior.  Anne yanks her away from the table and Helen pours out a pitcher of water.  Anne takes her outside to refill the pitcher.  During the process Helen suddenly realizes the connection between the letters spelled in her hand and the item.  She smiles and runs from one thing to another dragging Anne with her indicating for Anne to spell each item into her hand.  Helen is excited and suddenly has a new world of language opened to her.  She becomes happy with Anne.


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The Miracle Worker

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