In "The Miracle Worker", to what does Annie compare "obedience without understanding"?

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Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of the two weeks' stay in the cottage, Annie has taught Helen to obey, but she says that isn't enough. She doesn't understand. Throughout the play, Annie compares and contrasts Helen and the family's treatment of her to that of a dog. Even a dog you housebreak, though Helen is allowed to run all over the place, taking food from everyone's plate. On her return, Helen tries to spell words into the dog's paw. Again, she understands the concept of the game, but not the understanding of the words. Only when she makes the connection of water to her infant memories, when she was still "human," does she grasp the concept of words having meaning.