The Miracle Worker

“The Miracle Worker”
Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke
1962 United Artists
** I.V.

Most of us are familiar with this wonderful 1962 film. However my grandma knew about Helen Keller far earlier than this. She and Helen were contemporaries, after all. This item was pasted into her scrapbook in 1904.

The World’s Most Remarkable College Graduate
The story of Helen Keller’s life is the biography of two wonderful women- the blind, deaf,and dumb girl who for over twenty years has fought against awful odds, and the kind, ingenious and patient teacher who has led her charge into the sunlight of knowledge and of kinship with humanity.

In 1886, when Miss Annie Sullivan was called to Tuscumbia, Ala., to assume the care of Helen, the child had been living for nearly five years in the mental darkness that followed her treble affliction resulting from convulsions.The task of education seemed well nigh hopeless, for the one sense through which the child’s mind was to be awakened to consciousness was her sense of touch. But in June 1904, eighteen years later, Miss Keller graduated from Radcliffe with distinction, and received her degree of B.A.

This fairy tale of education, this romance of the conquest of obstacles, is a superb triumph of concentration. At her entrance examination in June 1900, as if Nature had not sufficiently handicapped her efforts, she had to submit to two additional trials. The questions were given her in the American Braille system of writing for the blind, with which Miss Keller was only slightly familiar, having learned the English Braille – the two systems being as different as two distinct systems of shorthand. This delay in puzzling out the translation of the questions was further aggravated by the fact that her little Swiss watch with raised figures had unfortunately been left at home, so she had no means of gauging the time, yet her typewriter clicked out the answers and she “passed” with flying colours in every study.

During her college course, in many studies Miss Sullivan repeated the lesson while Helen’s fragile fingers feathering the way over her mentor’s face, translated the muscular motions of speech into ideas. She studied English, Latin, French, Greek, German, political economy, logic, higher mathematics, chemistry and all the other myriad phases of college wisdom, through her wonderful fingers.

She uses the typewriter in five languages, has learned to speak with clear articulation, can swim, row, play cards, chess and basketball; dance and perform a hundred other seemingly impossible things. Her memory is marvellous, her temperament sunshiny and happy; her mind is wonderfully broad, subtle and thorough, and her book, “The Story of My Life,” besides being great as a biography, is the most important work of the century on psychology as a revelation of the human mind, its methods and possibilities.

 

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