The Miracle Worker Quotes
James Keller: Finding out if she's ticklish? She is. What is it, a game?
Annie Sullivan: An alphabet.
James Keller: Alphabet?
Annie Sullivan: [finger-spelling to Helen] For the deaf.
Annie Sullivan: [after Helen finger-spells back to her] Oh, how bright she is!
James Keller: You think she knows what she's doing? She's a monkey. She imitates everything.
Annie Sullivan: Yes, she's a bright little monkey, all right!
James Keller: She wants her doll back.
Annie Sullivan: After she spells it.
James Keller: Spells? She doesn't know the thing has a name, even.
Annie Sullivan: Of course not. Who expects her to now? I just want her fingers to learn the letters.
James Keller: She doesn't seem to like that alphabet very much, Miss Sullivan. Did you invent it yourself?
Annie Sullivan: Spanish monks under a vow of silence, which I wish you'd take!
Annie Sullivan: [after a breakthrough with Helen] Now all I have to teach you is one word - everything.
James Keller: Sooner or later, we all give up, don't we?
Annie Sullivan: Maybe you all do, but it's my idea of the original sin.
James Keller: What is?
Annie Sullivan: Giving up!
James Keller: Nothing I say is right.
Kate Keller: Why say anything?
Annie Sullivan: It's less trouble to feel sorry for her than it is to teach her anything better.
Kate Keller: What are you saying to her?
Annie Sullivan: Oh, I was just making conversation. Telling her it was a sewing card.
Kate Keller: Does that mean that to her?
Annie Sullivan: Oh, no, she won't know what spelling is till she knows what a word is.
Kate Keller: The captain says it's like spelling to a fence post.
Annie Sullivan: Does he now? It's how I watch you talk to your baby.
Kate Keller: The baby?
Annie Sullivan: Any baby. It's gibberish. Grown-up gibberish. Baby-talk gibberish. Do they understand one word of it to start? Somehow they begin to if they hear it. I'm letting Helen hear it.
Kate Keller: Other children are not impaired.
Annie Sullivan: Oh, there's nothing impaired in her head. It works like a mousetrap.
Kate Keller: Then when will she learn?
Annie Sullivan: Maybe after a million words.
Kate Keller: She's a defective child! It's not her fault!
Captain Arthur Keller: I didn't say it was her fault!
Kate Keller: Well, I don't know what to do. How can I teach her, beat her till she's black and blue?
Captain Arthur Keller: We can't have her running around loose! There must be some way to confine her!
Kate Keller: Where, in a cage? She's a growing child!
Captain Arthur Keller: Answer me one thing. Is it fair to the baby there?
Kate Keller: Are you willing to put her away? She wants to talk, like me, like you and me. Every day she slips further and further away. I don't know how to call her back.
Aunt Ev: I have a mind to write to Boston myself. If that school can't help her, maybe they'll send somebody who can.
Captain Arthur Keller: Miss Sullivan, I find it difficult to talk through those glasses. Why do you wear them? The sun's been down over an hour.
Annie Sullivan: Any kind of light hurts my eyes.
Captain Arthur Keller: Well, put them on, Miss Sullivan. I've decided to give you a second chance.
Annie Sullivan: To do what?
Captain Arthur Keller: To remain our employee! But on two conditions! I'm not accustomed to rudeness! If you want to stay, there must be a radical change of manner!
Annie Sullivan: Whose?
Captain Arthur Keller: Yours, young lady! Isn't it obvious? You must convice me that there's the slightest hope of you teaching a child who now flees from you like the plague.
Annie Sullivan: There isn't. It's hopeless here.
Captain Arthur Keller: Am I to understand...
Annie Sullivan: We all agree it's hopeless here. The next question is...
Kate Keller: Miss Annie, I'm not agreed! She did fold her napkin. She learns. She learns! Did you know she began talking when she was only six months old? She could say water. Well, not really. Wah-wah. But she meant water! She knew what it meant at only six months old! I never saw a child so bright or outgoing! It's still in her, somewhere. Miss Annie, put up with her and with us.
Captain Arthur Keller: Us?
Kate Keller: Please. Like the lost lamb in the parable, I love her all the more.
Annie Sullivan: Mrs. Keller, I don't think Helen's greatest handicap is deafness or blindness. I think it's your love and pity. All these years you've felt so sorry for her you've kept her like a pet. Well, even a dog you housebreak.
Aunt Ev: Why, this child has more sense than all these men Kellers, if there's ever any way to reach that mind of hers.
James Keller: Miss Sullivan? I'm James Keller.
Annie Sullivan: James? I had a brother Jimmy. Are you Helen's?
James Keller: I'm only half a brother. You'll be her governess?
Annie Sullivan: Well, I'll try.
James Keller: You look like half a governess.
Annie Sullivan: All's fair in love and war.
Captain Arthur Keller: This is not war.
Annie Sullivan: Well, it's not love!
Annie Sullivan: I have to live with her somewhere else.
Kate Keller: For how long?
Annie Sullivan: Until she learns to listen to and depend on me.
Captain Arthur Keller: Miss Sullivan...
Annie Sullivan: Captain Keller, it meets both of your conditions. It's the one way I can get back in touch with Helen, and I don't see how I can be rude to you again if you're not around to interfere with me.
Captain Arthur Keller: And what's your plan if I say no? Pack the other half of your suitcase and abandon your charge to... to...
Annie Sullivan: The asylum? I grew up in such an asylum, the State Alms House. Rats? Why, my brother Jimmy and I used to play with the rats because we didn't have toys. Maybe you'd like to know what Helen will find there, not on visiting days. One ward was full of the old women. Crippled, blind, dying, but even if what they had was catching, there was nowhere else to move them. That's where they put us. There were younger ones across the hall, prostitutes mostly, with TB and epileptic fits. And some of the kind that keep after other girls, especially the young ones. And some were just insane. Some had the DTs. And there were girls in another ward with babies they didn't want. They started at thirteen, fourteen. They left afterwards, but the babies stayed. We played with them, too. There were a lot of them, with sores all over from diseases you're not supposed to talk about.
Annie Sullivan: Disinter... disinterested... disinterested... where's discipline? What a dictionary this is. You have to know how something is spelt before you can look it up to see how it's spelt. Discipline... Huh. "Diskipline."
Captain Arthur Keller: From the minute she stepped off the train she's been nothing but a burden! Incompetent, impertinent, ineffectual, inmodest, and...
Kate Keller: She folded her napkin, Captain.
Captain Arthur Keller: She what?
Kate Keller: Not ineffectual. Helen did fold her napkin.
Captain Arthur Keller: What in heaven's name is so extraordinary about folding a napkin?
Kate Keller: Well, it's more than you did, Captain.
Captain Arthur Keller: Katie, the point is she's ruined any chance she ever had of getting along with the child. If you can see any point or purpose of her staying on here longer, it's more than I can.
Kate Keller: What do you wish me to do?
Captain Arthur Keller: I want you to give her notice!
Kate Keller: I can't.
Captain Arthur Keller: Then if you won't, I must!
James Keller: How old was he, your brother Jimmy?
Annie Sullivan: Helen's age.
James Keller: How did he die?
Annie Sullivan: He had a tubercular hip. We made quite a pair, me blind and him with his crutch.
James Keller: When did he die?
Annie Sullivan: Eleven years ago this May.
James Keller: And you've had no one to dream about since?
Annie Sullivan: No, one's enough.
James Keller: You don't let go of things easily, do you? You'd be quite a handsome girl if it weren't for your eyes. No one's told you?
Annie Sullivan: Everyone. You'd be quite a gentleman if it weren't for your manners.
James Keller: You wouldn't say that if you didn't have your glasses on. How will you win her hand now, in this place?
Annie Sullivan: I don't know. I lost my temper, and here we are. I'm counting on her. That little head is dying to know.
James Keller: Maybe you ought to put her away, Father.
Kate Keller: What?
James Keller: Some asylum. It's the kindest thing.
Aunt Ev: Why, she's your sister, James!
James Keller: Half-sister. Half mentally defective. She can't even keep herself clean. It's not pleasant to see her about all the time.
Kate Keller: Do you dare complain about what you can see?
Captain Arthur Keller: What would another week accomplish? We are more than satisfied. You taught her things to do, how to behave. She's more manageable, cleaner.
Annie Sullivan: Cleaner?
Captain Arthur Keller: Well, we say cleanliness is next to godliness.
Annie Sullivan: Cleanliness is next to nothing! Give me more time with her.
Captain Arthur Keller: Look, what's she spelling? Teaching a dog to spell? The dog doesn't know what she means any more than she knows what you mean, Miss Sullivan. I think you ask too much of her and yourself. God may not have meant Helen to have the eyes you speak of.
Annie Sullivan: I mean her to.
Kate Keller: What happened?
Annie Sullivan: She ate from her own plate. She ate with a spoon. Herself. And she folded her napkin.
Kate Keller: Folded her napkin?
Annie Sullivan: The room's a wreck, but her napkin is folded. I'll be in my room, Mrs. Keller.
Viney, Keller Maid: Don't leave now, Miss Annie. Dinner'll be ready right away.
Kate Keller: Folded her napkin. My Helen folded her napkin.
Annie Sullivan: Pity for this tyrant? Is there anything she wants she doesn't get? I'll tell you what I pity... that the sun won't rise and set for her all her life, and every day you're telling her it will. What you and your pity do will destroy her, Captain Keller.
Aunt Ev: There's a very famous Perkins School in Boston. They're supposed to do wonders.
Captain Arthur Keller: The child's been to specialists everywhere. They couldn't help her in Baltimore or Washington, could they?
Kate Keller: I think the captain will write to the Perkins School.
Captain Arthur Keller: Katie, how many times are you going to let them break your heart?
Kate Keller: Any number of times. As long as there's the slightest chance for her to see or hear.