Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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What is the climax of The Miracle Worker in the movie?

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In The Miracle Worker, the climax, or moment of most dramatic significance, occurs when Helen has a breakthrough and realizes what Anne Sullivan is trying to teach her. Anne has been attempting to teach Helen language, taking advantage of Helen's sense of touch as she can neither see nor hear. Anne has been using sign language to spell words, making Helen feel her hands as she forms each letter.

In the climactic scene, a frustrated Anne is spelling "water" to Helen as the girl pumps water from a well. Helen suddenly makes the important connection between what she is touching and what Anne is spelling. She even attempts to say "water" aloud. Once she understands, Helen runs to other objects as Anne spells them for her, allowing her to learn the words for "ground," "tree," "bell," "mother," and "father." It is this breakthrough that allows Helen to learn to communicate with those around her despite being blind and deaf.

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The climax in a drama is the decisive moment.  In the play The Miracle Worker it occurs in Act Three when Helen realizes that the word is the thing and the thing is the word.  When Helen realizes that the strange gestures Annie is making in her hand are the word for water and she remembers her baby word "wa-wa" as she is being forced to pump water, language is unlocked for her enabling her to learn.

From the e-notes plot summary: "In the yard, Annie is forcing Helen to pump water, meanwhile spelling w-a-t-e-r into Helen's hand, and "Now," as Gibson says, "the miracle happens." Helen has the breakthrough Annie has prayed for, and runs around the yard touching, and learning from Annie the names of the pump, the stoop, the trellis, and more."

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