The Miracle Worker Questions and Answers
by William Gibson

The Miracle Worker book cover
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Before Annie Sullivan arrived in The Miracle Worker, what strategies were Helen Keller's family considering in dealing with Helen?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To put it bluntly, the entire Keller family is at their wits end.  Right before Annie Sullivan arrived, the family is finally considering the unthinkable:  putting Helen in an asylum.

James:  You really ought to put her away, Father.

Kate:  What?

James:  Some asylum.  It's the kindest thing. (13)

And further along, after suggesting they confine her somehow, although no one believes it would be right to put a human in a cage, there is more dialogue on the subject of the asylum:

Keller:  Answer me one thing, is it fair to Mildred here?

Kate:  Are you willing to put her away? . . . She wants to talk, like--be like you and me. . . . Every day she slips further away.  And I don't know how to call her back. (16)

Luckily, the family isn't quite that far gone yet.  Kate does convince the Captain to write to "this very famous oculist in Baltimore" named Dr. Chisholm.  Of course, it isn't until the very last mention of the asylum that the Captain agrees saying, "I'll write the man, Katie" (16).

Thank God he does, . . . for it is that letter that calls Annie to the Keller household.

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mkcapen1 | Student

In the play "The Miracle Worker" Helen's mother is a woman desperate to find a cure or someway to help her daughter.  She keeps looking for other doctors who may have some idea as to what can be done for Helen.  She wants her husband to take Helen to some new specialists that she hopes can help her.

Helen's mother has trouble accepting that her only child can not be fixed.  She has doubts that Anne Sullivan's methods are going to work.  Her love for her child leaves her blind to Helen's need for structure and discipline.  She and her husband do not feel that anyone should discipline Helen.