What is Annie Sullivan's greatest fear regarding Peter Fagan?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Peter Fagan is actually not mentioned in Helen Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life, as the autobiography was actually published in 1903, whereas Helen did not meet Peter until 1916, when she was in her 30s. Instead, novelist Rosie Sultan wrote a historical fictional novel titled Helen Keller in Love, published in 2013, detailing Helen's lost love story, which she, along with many other writers and reporters, pieced together based on archived letters and newspaper articles.

Helen met Peter at the age of 35 when her teacher, Anne Sullivan, became infected with tuberculosis. Peter was a 29-year-old unemployed journalist sent by Anne's husband to Helen to be her secretary. According to Sultan, confirmed by an article titled "Helen Keller, 87, Dies: Triumph Out of Tragedy," printed in The New York Times on June 2, 1968, Helen and Peter had taken out a marriage license and planed to elope. However, both Miss Sullivan and Helen's mother broke up the affair because their was a standard belief that women with disabilities should not marry. In addition, Helen's mother objected strongly to Peter's Socialist beliefs.

Miss Sullivan in particular, also a woman with disabilities, couldn't help but relate Helen's love affair to her own marital situation. Though she married, she and her husband were separated, and he was a manipulator, frequently asking her for money. Miss Sullivan saw how easy it is for a woman with disabilities to be taken advantage of, and her greatest fear was that Helen would likewise be taken advantage of.

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The Story of My Life

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