Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

Start Free Trial

Editor's Choice

What is the climax of the movie The Miracle Worker?

Quick answer:

The climax of The Miracle Worker occurs when Annie Sullivan spells the word water in Helen's hand as they are pumping water and the young girl understands the connection between the word and the object.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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."

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What's the climax of The Miracle Worker?

Anne Sullivan doesn't feel she had enough time alone with Helen when the family calls them back for a dinner to celebrate Helen's progress in learning manners. While Annie gets increasingly frustrated at dinner as the family gives in to Helen's boundary-testing, Helen spills water from a pitcher. Annie takes her out to get more.

As the water from the pump is running over Helen's hands, Anne signs the word water in her palm. For the first time, Helen understands the connection between the word being spelled on her hand and the physical object it describes. She understands that Annie is spelling "water" and, more importantly, that a whole new world of communication has been opened to her. She drops the pitcher, which shatters, and says "wah wah."

As the two cry and bond for life, the climax of the play has been reached. Helen learns more words and runs to her parents, who are ecstatic when she can communicate with them. Annie has won, achieving her goal of opening the world up to Helen, and Helen's life from that moment forward will never be the same again.

After this climatic and dramatic highpoint, what is left of the play brings the events to a satisfactory conclusion.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on