Anne can see what Helen cannot see. That is no surprise. Helen was left both deaf and blind by an illness when she was a nineteen month baby. Anne can also see what Helen’s sighted parents can’t see- they are dooming her to a life of forbidding darkness; the darkness of not being able to express anything because she cannot make the simple but indispensable connection between a word and what it stands for. Even if Helen has wool in her hand and you spell wool with fingers, there is this primordial understanding needed of the word meaning the object. Without this understanding, absolutely nothing is possible.
Of course, achieving this is too ambitious a plan for Helen’s parents to give it any importance. For them, it is impossible to make Helen learn so that she can communicate. After all,”It’s less trouble to feel sorry for her than it is to teach her anything better.”And that is something Anne cannot accept at all. Anne doesn’t hold back in words or actions.As she would say to Helen’s parents later,”I don’t think Helen’s greatest handicap is deafness or blindness.I think it’s your love and pity.”
Love and pity. A handicap. So, how does one overcome the handicap?
Right from the moment Anne met Helen, she is delighted to see how strong-willed Helen is. Helen’s will power gives her hope even if Helen is using it to resist and fight off Anne’s overtures. This same will is going to soar towards the sky on seeing the light. But before that, the will of the child must bend to the will of the teacher. And that is simply not happening for Anne.
And then, Anne, seizes upon this moment. The whole family is eaiting together. And Helen is totally left to her own devices. She gropes around the table, gulping mouthfuls from every plate. She is perilously close to breaking things and is of course, spilling food all over. Everybody else in the family is used to it and does not even take notice of it. Anne snaps at how hopeless things are. She orders everybody out, locks the dining room and launches herself once again into the battle of wills. The will of an unyielding child against the will of a determined teacher. The irresistible force meets the immovable object.
A remarkable scene.
Do not miss the movie. You will love it.