What does the situation with Helen and Anne encourage James to finally reveal to his father? The Miracle Worker

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act Three of The Miracle Worker after Annie's time alone with Helen in the garden house is over, the Kellers have a homecoming dinner for Helen for which Aunt Ev has made all of her favorite foods.  at first, James is asked to say grace; he recites from the Old Testament a passage about Jacob's forcing God's angel to stay, suggestive of the situation with Anne Sullivan as he tells his Aunt Ev it is "fitting."  Having taken to heart Kate's urging to "Stand up to him," James begins to assert himself.

Then, when Helen, who has learned table manners takes her napkin and throws it onto the floor repeatedly after it is returned to her, Annie tells the Keller that Helen is testing them.  James demurs, "She's testing you," but Keller tells James that no one is interested in his opinion. Finally, when the unruly Helen pours the water pitcher on Anne's dress, Annie grabs Helen, forbidding anyone to interfere, as she takes Helen to refill the pitcher.  As Captain Keller starts after the insubordinate Annie, James intervenes, standing "with shaky resolve" interposing his chair between them."  He tells Keller to let Annie go because she is right:

"She's right, Kate's right, I'm right, and you're wrong.  If you drive her [Annie] away from here it will be over my dead--chair, has it never occurred to you that on one occasion you might be consummately wrong?"

From the example of Annie's bravery, James summons the courage to finally stand up to his father.