The Miracle Worker


William Gibson

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James Sullivan / “Jimmie” Character Analysis

James Sullivan, Annie Sullivan’s little brother, is never seen onstage, but his voice is an important presence in the play. James and Annie grew up in extreme poverty, and eventually were taken to live in a state almshouse. Around this time, James (who could barely walk) fell seriously ill and died. This caused Annie tremendous guilt, since she had promised that she would always take care of her brother. Jimmie has only a few lines in the play, but he’s an important character: Annie’s narrative “arc” begins with her guilt over Jimmie’s death and ends with her redeeming herself by “saving” Helen Keller from her isolation.

James Sullivan / “Jimmie” Quotes in The Miracle Worker

The The Miracle Worker quotes below are all either spoken by James Sullivan / “Jimmie” or refer to James Sullivan / “Jimmie”. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Communication Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Miracle Worker published in 2008.
Act 1 Quotes

BOY’S VOICE [in terror]: Annie! Annie, don't let them take me-Annie!

Related Characters: James Sullivan / “Jimmie” (speaker), Annie Sullivan
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

JAMES: Spell, she doesn't know the thing has a name, even.

Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2 Quotes

BOY’S VOICE: You ain't goin' to school, are you, Annie?
ANNIE [whispering]: When I grow up.
BOY’S VOICE: You ain't either, Annie. You're goin' to stay here take care of me.
ANNIE: I'm goin' to school when I grow up.
BOY’S VOICE: You said we'll be together, forever and ever and ever–
ANNIE [fierce]; I'm goin' to school when I grow up!

Related Characters: Annie Sullivan (speaker), James Sullivan / “Jimmie” (speaker), Helen Keller
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

ANNIE: The first year we had eighty, seventy died. The room Jimmie and I played in was the deadhouse, where they kept the bodies till they could dig—
KATE [closes her eyes]: Oh, my dear—
ANNIE: —the graves.
(She is immune to KATE's compassion.)
No, it made me strong. But I don't think you need send Helen there. She's strong enough.

Related Characters: Annie Sullivan (speaker), Kate Keller (speaker), James Sullivan / “Jimmie” (speaker), Helen Keller
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
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James Sullivan / “Jimmie” Character Timeline in The Miracle Worker

The timeline below shows where the character James Sullivan / “Jimmie” appears in The Miracle Worker. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
...I am I owe to you.” She remembers coming to Anagnos’s school years earlier. After “Jimmie died,” Annie recalls, she enrolled in the school, where she got her “eyes back” and... (full context)
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...voices can be heard. They belong to the young Annie and her brother, James (or Jimmie) Sullivan. The voice of young Annie tells her younger brother, “I’m takin’ care of you.”... (full context)
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...Kate are waiting. James greets her and introduces himself. Annie replies, “I had a brother Jimmie.” James explains he’s Helen’s half-brother and adds, “You look like half a governess.” Annie greets... (full context)
Act 2
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...“Annie, what’s that noise?” Annie replies, that somebody is pushing a cot to “the deadhouse.” Jimmie asks, “Does it hurt, to be dead?” Next, Jimmie insists that Annie must stay around... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...about her own childhood. She grew up in “the state almshouse,” along with her brother Jimmie. The place was full of old, blind women, and younger, diseased people. Annie and Jimmie... (full context)