Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Miracle Worker

         Anne Sullivan is known as Helen Keller's teacher, but many people don't know about her early life.            
  Anne Sullivan was born on April 14,1866 in the Feeding Hills subdivision, a notoriously bad area of town. Sadly, her father, Thomas Sullivan, was a heavy drinker, and often beat Annie. Sometimes he would tell stories of life back in Ireland, and his children, Annie and her younger siblings, James, and Mary loved them. Yet at other times they would hide from him. :,-( Annie's mother, Alice, was gentle and kind, though she was often sickly. This was hard on the family, and because Annie was half-blind, and James was lame, none of them could work. Mary was too young to work, and Thomas wasn't able to keep a job, so the family was very poor. After their mother died of tuberculosis, Annie and James were sent to Tewksbury, the poorhouse, but healthy, pretty little Mary was adopted by a great-aunt. At Tewksbury, Annie and James were not separated, as boys and girls usually were, because feisty Annie clung to him, refusing to be separated. When a worker tried to move James, Annie hit him.
 
  When James became ill and died a few months later, Annie was devastated. Her eyes were getting worse, and she was miserable. Trying to cheer her up, another poorhouse resident told her of The Perkins Institute for the Blind. It became her dream. Annie found out that the President of The Perkins Institute for the Blind was coming to Tewksbury for some reason, (maybe a inspection?) she was thrilled. She gathered all her courage,and met him at the gate, crying, "Oh,please, sir, I want to go to school!" Annie got her wish. After graduating, however, she confessed that she "had no idea what to do next". So, at the ripe old age of 20, she accepted a position that would make her famous: teaching a little deaf-blind girl named Helen.Helen was "almost as feisty as I," Annie wrote to a friend,"and to hear her father talk, you'd think the southerners won every battle in the War."(Civil War) Helen was indeed feisty, even breaking two of Annie's teeth on one occasion, but she had met her match.
       When Helen's parents let her get away with everything, she and Annie moved to a little cottage on the Keller's property. There, Helen finally learned to "finger-spell', something Annie had been constantly trying to teach her. They were  standing by a pump, and as Annie pumped, she spelled "w-a-t-e-r "in Helen's hand. As Helen said later," I understood that "w-a-t-e-r "was the wonderful cool something on my hand." Helen and Annie spent the next 49 years together. Helen was known to say, "The day my teacher came to me was my soul's birthday!"
 
  

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