Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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In The Miracle Worker, why does Annie find it crucial to remove Helen from the house?

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After witnessing Helen's behavior of running around the dinner table, sticking her hand into things, and locking her in her room upstairs, Anne Sullivan realizes that Helen is completely out of control. As she ponders this situation, she writes,

The, more, I, think, the, more, certain, I, am, that, obedience, is, the, gateway, through, which, knowledge, enters, the, mind, of, the, child—

In Act II, Scene 2, Annie watches as Helen wanders around the breakfast table, sticking her hand directly into her mother's scrambled eggs. She makes the rounds at the table and starts to stick her hands in Annie's plate but is halted by Annie's grabbing them. When Mr. Keller and Mrs. Keller, object, Anne becomes rather angry, telling them that Helen is a "tyrant" for whom everything is done. "What good will your pity do her when you’re under the strawberries, Captain Keller?" she pointedly asks. Anne contends that she can help Helen if they will leave the room. But, what follows is an extreme test of the wills as Helen struggles to dominate the situation; instead Anne wins the battle by forcing Helen to eat with spoon and fork. During this time Anne spells into the girl's hand; however, Helen spits out her food in Anne's face. Controlling herself, Anne then takes a pitcher of water and douses Helen's face. When Helen gasps, Anne slips more food into the girl's mouth.

After this incident, Anne is convinced that Helen cannot learn until there are penalties for her misbehavior. When Mr. and Mrs. Keller return, Anne tells them,

She ate from her own plate. (She thinks a moment.) She ate with a spoon. Herself. (KATE frowns, uncertain with thought, and glances down at HELEN.) And she folded her napkin. 

Having won this first round, Anne feels encouraged, but then Helen goes to her room and will not let Anne touch her. So after deliberation, Anne goes to the Kellers who sit in the garden house. There Anne tells them that she must have complete control of Helen in order to be able to teach the girl. When they object, saying they want to help, Anne counters that they interfere. 

Not anyone who loves her, you have so many feelings they fall over each other like feet, you won’t use your chances and you won’t let me.

Finally, she gets the Kellers to agree to let Anne teach Helen away from her parents in the garden house; in this way, she will be dependent upon Anne, and Anne then can weild some power.


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