Annie Sullivan
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Quotes for
Annie Sullivan (Character)
from The Miracle Worker (1962)

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The Miracle Worker (1962)
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: Pity? For this tyrant? The whole house turns on her whims! 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 good will your pity do when you're under the strawberries, Captain Keller?

Annie Sullivan: It's less trouble to feel sorry for her than it is to teach her anything better.

Annie Sullivan: [after a breakthrough with Helen] Now all I have to teach you is one word - everything.

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.

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!

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: 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.

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.

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 for home 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 any 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, most of them dying, but even if what they had was catching, there was nowhere else to move them. That's where they put us. Then 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. Then there were girls in another ward to have 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.

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.

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: 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.

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!

Annie Sullivan: The rooms a wreck but she folded her napkin!

Annie Sullivan: I wanted to teacher her what language is. I know without it to do nothing but obey is no gift. Obedience without understanding is a blindness too. Is that all I've wished on her?


"The Wonderful World of Disney: The Miracle Worker (#4.4)" (2000)
Anne Sullivan: Why should I talk to you? I'm teaching Percy!

[Annie is writing notes when she hears a carriage pull up outside the small house where she and Helen have been staying for two weeks. The horse whinnies; a dog barks]
Anne Sullivan: Captain.
Captain Keller: Ah, Miss Sullivan, I've brought Helen a playmate.
[He has a white shepherd dog on a leash]
Captain Keller: It's a kind of graduation present.
Anne Sullivan: Please, wait outside, Captain.
[She takes the dog's leash, leads it inside, and shuts the door in his face]
Anne Sullivan: Dog.
[She spells the word into Helen's fingers, then allows Helen to pet it]
Captain Keller: Well, Miss Sullivan, the two weeks are up.
Anne Sullivan: Not until five o'clock.
Captain Keller: Oh, what difference can half a day make? You don't know how eager we are to have her back.
Anne Sullivan: I do know. It's my main concern.
Captain Keller: You've done wonders for her. And you've done us a great service. I've actually missed her. I owe that debt to you.
Anne Sullivan: Pay it to Helen, Captain. Give her another week.
Captain Keller: Well, look what you've done for her already. She's well-behaved, seems quite contented, certainly cleaner.
Anne Sullivan: She's cleaner? Is that what you care about? She's learning to talk, Captain! The words are in her fingers already. I can't risk her unlearning it when she goes back to her old life in the house.
Captain Keller: Aw, look.
[They look inside the small house, where Helen is trying to spell something to the dog's paw]
Captain Keller: What is she spelling?
Anne Sullivan: [sarcastically] 'Water'!
Captain Keller: Miss Sullivan, that dog doesn't know what words are any more than she does. The dog's happy enough
[chuckling]
Captain Keller: , and for her, God may not have meant her to speak, Miss Sullivan.
Anne Sullivan: *I* mean her to, Captain. Give her half a week.
Captain Keller: You have until five o'clock. Kate cannot bear to be separated from her for another night.
[When he returns home, Kate rushes outside]
Kate Keller: Where is she?
Captain Keller: Your Miss Sullivan insisted on keeping her until five o'clock.

[James Keller comes to escort Annie back to the big house]
James Keller: May I escort you?
Anne Sullivan: I'm not very good company right now.
James Keller: Well, I didn't come to keep you company. I came to keep you from getting lost in the dark.
Anne Sullivan: [stiffly] Maybe that is just what I was looking to do.
James Keller: [smiles understandingly] Are you feeling sorry for yourself, Miss Sullivan?
Anne Sullivan: Just this once. Yes.
[She smiles, and gestures with her head that she will walk with him]
James Keller: My father has a great respect for you. That's not easily earned. He fought at Vicksburg; he edits a newspaper.
Anne Sullivan: And he's always daring you to measure up.
James Keller: If you have any advice for me, I wouldn't mind hearing it.
Anne Sullivan: I never really had a father, so I'm the last person to ask. But you've got to stand up to the world. That's all I know.
Anne Sullivan: Well, what if he's the world?
Anne Sullivan: Then you can just look around, James, and see how much bigger it really is. He's a man, James, that's all. So are you.

Captain Keller: Miss Sullivan, I've brought you your first month's salary. You've done quite a job. You've taken a wild thing and given us back a child.
Anne Sullivan: I taught Helen one thing. 'No.' Don't do this, don't do that. I wanted to teach her 'yes'.
Captain Keller: Well, you'll have all the time you need, now.
Anne Sullivan: Will you help me, Captain?
Captain Keller: Yes. How?
Anne Sullivan: Don't undo what I've done. The world is not an easy place for anyone. To give Helen her way in everything is a lie to her. You've got to stand between her and that lie. Don't give in.
Captain Keller: [He appears to have understood none of this] We're certainly going to try.
Anne Sullivan: I used to wonder how I would earn a living. Now the question is, can I survive it.
Captain Keller: I'll see you at supper.

[At Helen's 'Welcome Home' dinner, Helen throws her napkin on the floor. Annie replaces it]
Kate Keller: Pickles, Aunt Ev?
Aunt Ev: I should say so. You know my opinion of your pickles.
Kate Keller: [smiling] Well, this is the last of them, I'm afraid. I didn't put up nearly enough last summer, but this year I intend to.
[Kate doles some food out onto Helen's plate; Helen drops her napkin again. While the others talk, Helen repeatedly drops and Annie repeatedly replaces Helen's napkin. Annie takes Helen's plate away]
Kate Keller: Miss Sullivan, no. No. Please? I have hardly had an hour with her.
[Helen reverts to her bad habits: spanking the table, eating with her hands, moaning and groaning]
Anne Sullivan: Captain?
Captain Keller: Katie, we, uh, we had a little talk. Miss Sullivan feels that if we indulge Helen in...
Aunt Ev: But what has the child done?
Anne Sullivan: She's learned not to throw things on the floor, and...
Aunt Ev: It's only a napkin. It's not as if it was something breakable.
Anne Sullivan: Either give Helen to me, or you keep her from kicking.

[It is Helen's 'Welcome Home' dinner, and she is misbehaving]
Kate Keller: What do you want me to do?
Anne Sullivan: Let me take her from the table.
Aunt Ev: But this is her first evening back.
Kate Keller: I have made all of Helen's favorite foods.
Anne Sullivan: She's testing you.
James Keller: She's testing *you*.
Anne Sullivan: I know!
Captain Keller: Well, she's not kicking now.
Anne Sullivan: This is what I was worried about. Is this what you promised me, less than an hour ago?
[Helen nestles against her mother, who holds her protectively]
Anne Sullivan: Give into her, then. She's the one who will pay for it.
[She sits again]
Anne Sullivan: Please, pass me more of Helen's favorite foods.

Kate Keller: Take her, Miss Annie.
Anne Sullivan: Thank you.
Captain Keller: No. No, I won't have it. I don't see that we need to send her from the table.
Anne Sullivan: Let me hold Helen to what's she's learned, and she will go on learning. Take her out of my hands, and it all comes apart!
Captain Keller: She is the Guest of Honor. Bring her plate back.
Anne Sullivan: If she was a seeing child, you would not stand for this!
Captain Keller: Well, she is not! I think some allowances are called for. Bring her plate back.
[Helen has never stopped moaning. The Captain puts Helen into her chair, replaces her napkin, and gives her a fork]
Captain Keller: Thank you. There. Now, let's start all over.
[Helen throws her fork and napkin to the ground, then starts to stuff food into her mouth with the palm of her hand. She gets up to wander around the table, in her old habit. Annie pauses her]
Anne Sullivan: No. No. No.
[She takes Helen's hand and puts it to her own cheek, so that Helen will feel her shaking her head negatively]
Anne Sullivan: No. No.
[Helen reaches for the pitcher of water and sloshes Annie]
Anne Sullivan: Auhh!
[She grabs Helen and lifts her. Kate and Arthur start to rise from the table]
Anne Sullivan: Don't get up!
Captain Keller: What are you doing?
Anne Sullivan: I treat her like a seeing child because I ask her to see. I expect her to see!
Captain Keller: Where are you taking her?
Anne Sullivan: To make her re-fill this pitcher!