The Miracle Worker Questions and Answers
by William Gibson

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Why does Annie have Helen feel the different expressions on her face?  

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Michael Foster eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Touch is one of the few senses that Helen has left after a childhood illness deprived her of sight and hearing. Annie is teaching her the names for concrete objects, such as “doll” or “fork.” These are relatively simple things to convey, but how to teach an abstract concept, such as “happy” or “sad”? The facial expressions Annie uses can give Helen some idea of what another person is feeling; Helen can compare her own expressions to another’s. This will be a doorway into understanding the deeper concept, which cannot be taught to someone with limited language. The facial expressions will have to represent the deeper feeling until Helen progresses in her communication skills. This might be confusing, since some expressions can mean more than one thing. For example, “confused” and “angry” can look similar as facial expressions. The finer delineations will have to wait.

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