The Miracle Worker by William Gibson

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What is the summary of Act II of the Miracle Worker?

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At the start of Act II, It is evening and Annie is writing a letter. In the letter, Annie explains how much control Helen has over her family, "mutter[ing] each word as she writes":

. . . and, nobody here, has, attempted, to, control, her. The, greatest, problem, I, have, is, how, to discipline, her, without, breaking, her, spirit.

Annie's letter explains that Helen has few behavioral limits placed on her by her family. She is allowed to do whatever she wishes and receives almost no discipline for her actions.

After writing the letter, Annie works with Helen, trying to communicate with her. She lets Helen feel her face, to show her she is upset, and spells into her hands:

Bad, girl.

Then, she makes a happy face and signs to Helen,

Good, girl.

She tries to teach her some basic words in sign language so that she can begin to teach Helen to control her behavior.

Annie continually struggles to help Helen's parents (Mr. and Mrs. Keller) understand that Helen is capable of learning to control her actions. While they never discipline her because they think she is unable to learn, Annie believes that Helen can learn to behave like any person who can see and hear. She thinks that Mr. and Mrs. Keller are limiting Helen by avoiding discipline. One moment in Act II where this is seen is when Helen stabs Annie's hand with a needle. Annie grabs Helen's wrist to show her that her action is wrong, but Mrs. Keller intervenes and offers her a candy. Annie asks,

Why does she get a reward? For stabbing me?

Kate has no good answer to offer. She explains in a roundabout way,

Well—
(Then, tiredly)
We catch our flies with honey, I'm afraid. We haven't the heart for much else, and so many times she simply cannot be compelled.

Mrs. Keller limits Helen's potential growth by imagining that she "simply cannot be compelled." The Kellers do not believe that Helen can learn, so they do not discipline her or try to change her bad behavior.

This is seen, once again, when Annie eats breakfast with the family. Helen insists upon eating the food off of Annie's plate, even though she has a plate of her own. Mrs. Keller tries to convince Annie that she can just give Helen the plate and go get a new plate for herself. (She wants to give in to Helen's desire to get her own...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 818 words.)

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