In The Miracle Worker, what actions at the breakfast table reveal the way the Kellers treat Helen?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Annie Sullivan is Helen Keller's teacher and her determination and patience, as revealed in The Miracle Worker, reveal her great strength and one of the reasons why Helen Keller is able to become such an inspiration to so many. The Miracle Worker highlights the turning point in the lives of all those associated with Helen Keller as she starts her extraordinary journey of the discovery of language and communication. 

Helen's family do not know how to manage Helen's blindness and deafness and have set no boundaries for her, allowing her to do anything, "creating as usual, a fine disorder."(Act II) Helen's behavior at the breakfast table and her family's reaction to it show just how unruly and out of control Helen is. Around the table, conversation continues as Helen sticks her fingers, unchecked, into each plate of food, James and her father " taking it so for granted they hardly notice." Annie's reaction to Helen's "feigned injury" and misbehavior when Annie will not let her touch her plate, disturbs and irritates her father and causes a commotion around the table. Annie goes as far as to call Helen a "tyrant" when Captain Keller asks her to show some pity. It is easier, Annie points out, for them to show pity than it is for them "to teach her anything better." A temper tantrum, such as this, does not phase Annie, despite Captain Keller's threats to fire her, reminding her that she, this "cub of a girl," is only a "paid teacher" and has no right to interfere in this way.  

Kate's ineffectiveness, James' dismissiveness and Captain Keller's indignation reveal how the family treat Helen almost like an animal, not having formed a suitable bond with her and tolerating the most unacceptable and inappropriate behavior. 

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The Miracle Worker

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