In The Miracle Worker, how does Mrs. Keller react to her daughter Helen?  

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Mrs. Keller's approach to her daughter is framed as deeply compassionate but lacking real understanding of what her daughter needs. She recognizes that institutionalizing her daughter is a terrible option and seeks a specialist to help her. This is a crucial move and enables the "miracle" of the play to happen. After this, however, we see that Mrs. Keller's approach to parenting Helen proves to be lacking.

Not knowing how to communicate with Helen, she provides little structure and constantly accommodates Helen's tantrums. While this shows that she cares for Helen, it goes directly against the framework suggested by Annie for trying to help Helen in the long term. This leads to Annie's work being substantially more difficult, as she is actively working against Mrs. Keller's approach of accommodating Helen and is almost sent away before she is able to have a breakthrough with Helen.

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Mrs. Keller is a very loving and sympathetic mother, but her compassion for her daughter gets the better of her. She is, if anything, far too lenient on her daughter. Because of Helen’s disability, her mother simply allows her to do as she wishes, grabbing at things randomly, including food off of plates. She certainly babies her daughter.

When Helen’s tutor confronts her about this, though, she learns that her actions have been hindering her daughter’s development, and that she can do much more to help Helen understand and learn. Helen’s Mother is saddened by realizing that she has been hurting her instead of helping her grow and develop.

When she finally sees Helen understanding something, her heart is filled with delight and sadness. She is overjoyed that her daughter has grown and can function well in society, but she is sad that her daughter will no longer rely on her as much because she has become independent.

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Mrs. Keller loves her daughter Helen deeply and feels great pity for her. As a result, she views Helen as not in need of discipline. She lets her grab food off everyone's plates during meals and she lets her rough manners go by without comment. Like everyone else in the Keller household, she feels Helen will never be able to improve her lot in life due to being blind and deaf.

However, Ms. Sullivan changes her perception of Helen. Mrs. Keller realizes her pity and permissiveness will only hurt Helen in the long run, and prevent her from reaching her full potential. So, she starts allowing Ms. Sullivan to discipline Helen.

Interestingly, the stage directions when Helen spells out a word to her mother for the first time, Mrs. Keller experiences a bittersweet reaction:

Kate comprehends it, their first act of verbal communication, and she can hardly utter the word aloud, in wonder, gratitude, and deprivation; it is a moment in which she simultaneously finds and loses a child.

So, in the end, Mrs. Keller becomes proud that her daughter will be able to have a more independent existence, but she is also losing a child from the nest, so to speak.

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In the play, The Miracle Worker, Mrs. Keller doesn't really know what to do with her daughter, Helen.  As a six year old girl left blind and deaf, Helen is a challenge for anyone as Helen does whatever she pleases with no discipline.  Her mother, Kate Keller, is consumed with guilt over Helen's condition, and does not discipline her, allowing Helen to grab food off her plate with no consequences. When Annie Sullivan arrives, Mrs. Keller wants to interfere and protect her child from Annie's discipline.  With her husband's distrust of Annie's methods with Helen, and her own inability to demand good behavior from her child, Kate Keller at first allows her pity for Helen's condition to get in the way.  When she finally realizes that she is a hindrance to Helen learning anything, Mrs. Keller allows Anne to teacher Helen in the best way that she can so that her daughter can have a better life.  Mrs. Keller grows from paralyzing guilt to acceptance of her daughter's condition and the special circumstances required to teach Helen to live a full life.

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