The Miracle Worker by William Gibson was originally written for television and was adapted for the stage, opening on Broadway in 1959. It is based on the true story of Annie Sullivan's attempts to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller when Helen was seven years old. Kate Keller is Helen's mother, the second wife of Captain Arthur Keller. Kate is much younger than her husband and is also step-mother to James, Helen's half brother.
Kate is a loving, indulgent mother but this has allowed Helen to become unruly and basically unmanageable. She is anxious to try anything to help her daughter and manages to persuade Helen's dominant father that Annie Sullivan, whom he is inclined to dismiss, should be given a chance because she knows that Helen has potential, desperately mentioning that "It’s still in her, somewhere, isn’t it?" (Act II) . It is very difficult for Kate to relinquish control of Helen to Annie but she knows that, otherwise, Helen will no doubt be sent to an institution, "an asylum."
Helen touches her cheek to indicate that she is looking for her mother but Annie insists that the only way to help Helen is to not give in to her all the time and so Kate agrees because she recognizes the truth in Annie's words - "I don’t think Helen’s worst handicap is deafness or blindness. I think it’s your love. And pity." She is encouraged by Helen's folding of her napkin, a huge step forward for the otherwise petulant child. Despite the many setbacks, she believes in Annie and Helen's development is phenomenal.