Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson
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What does Captain Keller mean when he says, "The house is at sixes and sevens from morning 'til night over the child"?  

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The phrase 'to be at sixes and sevens' means to be confused or in some kind of uproar. Before Annie taught Helen how to behave, Helen kept the entire house in turmoil with her actions.

Her tantrums caused stress between the mother and father. She would pout, throw things, and...

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The phrase 'to be at sixes and sevens' means to be confused or in some kind of uproar. Before Annie taught Helen how to behave, Helen kept the entire house in turmoil with her actions.

Her tantrums caused stress between the mother and father. She would pout, throw things, and physically lash out at those around her. The entire household was focused on keeping her happy and calm, a nearly impossible task. 

Because Helen was the center of this chaotic world, no peace could settle on the house. The family could not have relaxing family dinners around the table; they couldn't go out together in public to any entertaining events. Helen's father couldn't even find peace and quiet to read a newspaper.

When Captain Keller says his house is at sixes and sevens, he is expressing his frustration at the constant turmoil Helen's behaviors cause. He desires a calm, orderly home, and until something is done about Helen's out of control antics, he won't get it.

 

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