Helen Keller is famous as the little deaf and blind girl who went on to become a famous author and motivational speaker and lecturer. The play The Miracle Worker revolves around Annie Sullivan's arrival at the Keller home where she has been tasked with teaching Helen, an obstinate child who has no discipline and who is more pitied than loved by most of the people around her. Helen's parents have indulged Helen to the point where many of her actions are unrestrained and almost wild. Her mother, Kate, will never give up trying to find a way to help Helen and Annie Sullivan's arrival proves to be the turning point for this family in crisis.
Annie comes from The Perkins' Institute and is only partially sighted herself so understands many of Helen's frustrations. She reveals a tremendous patience with Helen and recognizes that the family's actions are hindering Helen's progress. When they discuss an "asylum" Annie shows her resolve and says in Act 1, "Give up, why, I only today saw what has to be done, to begin!" Annie is very stubborn herself and is able to persuade the Kellers that she needs time alone with Helen. Everything Annie does has purpose and she shows her hope through her willingness to keep trying, even though Helen breaks her things and has previously locked her in her room, forcing Annie to find a way out the window. She knows that she must build a relationship with Helen if she is to have any chance at success. Annie knows that it will be difficult because of her own circumstances and reminds the family that Helen does not need pity. She says, "If I’d ever once thought like that, I’d be dead!"
Annie's sense of humor also helps show that she is determined to help Helen. The fact that she stands up to the conventional Captain Keller who has been unable to put Annie in what he thinks should be her place reveals that she is hopeful of a future for Helen. Annie knows that she must start at the beginning.