Another important symbol in The Miracle Worker is the key. Throughout the play, various references are made to keys, keyholes, and locked doors. Often, it is Helen Keller herself who locks the doors—at one point, for instance, she locks Annie Sullivan in her room and then hides the key. For Gibson, keys and locks evoke the way Helen’s mind works. Annie sees Helen as a bright young child who is nonetheless barred from learning about the world by her blindness and deafness. Annie aims to “unlock” Helen’s potential by teaching her how to communicate through sign language. Therefore, it’s wholly appropriate that, just after learning to communicate, Helen presents Annie with the key to the house. Thanks to her teacher, Helen’s mind is now “unlocked,” completely open to the wonders of the world.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Keys and locks appears in The Miracle Worker. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.