Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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What words are repeatedly heard in Annie's flashback?

Quick answer:

Annie Sullivan hears the words "forever and ever" repeated in her flashbacks. They are spoken by her brother, who died as a child and to whom Annie feels that she has broken a promise.

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In The Miracle Worker by William Gibson, Annie Sullivan is haunted by memories. Throughout the play, she has flashbacks of her childhood and especially of her brother, Jimmie. Annie made a promise to take care of Jimmie forever and ever. These are the words Annie hears over and over again: "Forever and ever."

Sometimes, Annie hears her brother's voice asking, "Forever and ever?" She recalls how the two children ended up in an almshouse. Annie wanted to keep her promise, but the two were sent to different wards. Annie heard Jimmie begging her not to let them take him, but she had no choice.

Annie hears Jimmie again, recalling his pain and his question about when they are going home. "Forever and ever, you said forever," he pleaded.

Later, Annie recalls how she talked about going to school when she grew up. In the flashback, her brother's voice accuses her: "You said we'll be together, forever and ever and ever." Annie keeps insisting that she must go to school, and at the same time, she hears a doctor telling her that her brother must soon go on a journey.

Jimmie did not survive his childhood. He is gone forever, and Annie knows it. Yet Jimmie's voice continues to haunt her, with the words "Forever and ever" repeated again and again. Annie feels guilty about her brother's death. There was nothing she could have done to prevent it, of course, but she feels as though she has broken her promise to him, for they are not together. Yet at the end of the play, she finally comes to terms with her loss and tells Helen that she will love her forever and ever.

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