In The Miracle Worker, to what does Annie compare words?

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bree1225's profile pic

bree1225 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Annie spells for Helen, over and over, telling Kate Keller that a million words might be required for Helen to comprehend the meaning of the first one. Helen does not know that words mean things. Annie can only hope that by repeatedly spelling things into Helen's hand, Helen will eventually understand that words and the letters that Annie is spelling into her hand mean things. they must break down this wall in order for Helen to learn language. Without this understanding, Helen will continue to be ignorant as well as blind.Helen will continue to live a  DARK life, without having comprehended the meaning of a word. In this world of not knowing she lead a life of isolation, unable to communicate with the world. Annie says that  "she has to learn that everything has its name! That words can be her eyes, to everything in the world outside her, and inside too, what is she without words?"

Annie must open Helen's eyes figuratively be getting her to understand that everything has a name and that these letters she is spelling into her hand are words and the words are the names of the things around her. Annie has to teach her language in order to open the world around her.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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During her time with Helen, Annie spells word after word after word into Helen's hand. After much conflict and struggle, the little girl learns the alphabet, even spelling in her sleep, but she does not make the connection between the letters and the meanings of the words. This is the breakthrough Annie fights to achieve in order to unlock Helen's mind. She is working, however, in her own kind of darkness, desperate to save Helen from her prison but insecure in her own ability to do so. And so she spells for Helen, over and over, telling Kate Keller that a million words might be required for Helen to comprehend the meaning of the first one.

Time runs out for Annie toward the play's dramatic conclusion. Helen is to be taken back into her family's life, without having comprehended the meaning of a word, sentencing her to a life isolation, unable to communicate with the world. The Kellers reassure Annie that she has accomplished a great deal with their daughter. Helen is better behaved, "manageable, cleaner." Annie explodes in frustration, trying to make them understand what she has been fighting for--for Helen:

Cleanliness is next to nothing, she has to learn that everything has its name! That words can be her eyes, to everything in the world outside her, and inside too, what is she without words? And they're in her fingers now, I need only time to push one of them into her mind! One, and everything under the sun will follow.

Annie knew that comprehending the meaning of one word would bring Helen into the world and that language would give her life back to her. Through her passion and total dedication to Helen, Annie succeeds in teaching Helen language. Words did become Helen's eyes, guiding her through a remarkable life.

sandyoreilly's profile pic

sandyoreilly | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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She compared words to eyes. Because with words Helen can think, have ideas and be reached.

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