What are some tough study questions from the play The Miracle Worker by William Gibson?

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The Miracle Worker is a play by William Gibson about the young Helen Keller and the arrival of Annie Sullivan who will deliver this desperate family from its seemingly helpless situation. In order to write questions that may have even the teacher thinking, aim to include questions about the abstract elements of the play. Some possible questions might be:

1. Explain the extended metaphor which exists throughout the play with regard to a war.

Ans:  There are references to the family's struggles with Helen as being compared to a war zone. For example, in act 1, scene 1 Captain Keller says that his wife is not "battle-scarred" (Helen is her first child).In Act 2, Annie talks to James, and during their references to "war," Annie says "a siege is a siege" (talking about how managing Helen is similar to engaging in a war). In the same scene, the Captain's response to Annie taking Helen away is to let her do whatever she wants and he makes "an irate surrender." 

2. Rewrite the doctor's possible response to Captain Keller's question, "Will my girl be alright" based on Helen being born in 2016 and the doctor having access to modern medicine and machines. In the play the doctor answers "Oh, by morning she'll be knocking down Captain Keller's fences again." 

Ans: There are several possible answers but the doctor would be unlikely to dismiss the illness so readily but at the same time he wants to remain hopeful so he would probably say something like "Oh, by morning, we will have a better indication of any problems. Let's not anticipate anything yet. "

3. In Act 2, what is the "miracle" that Captain Keller suggests that Miss Sullivan will not be able to achieve?

Ans: He says that it will be a miracle if "you can get the child to tolerate you." 

4. From Act 1, give a synonym for "swaddled," in terms of the description of Mildred, Helen's baby sister.

Ans: "Swaddled" refers to the way in which the baby is wrapped in blankets so snugly wrapped could be a good choice. 

5. In Act 3, scene 1, Annie is trying to teach Helen to communicate and she tells Helen that there is "only one way out." What is she referring to?

Ans: Annie is trying to make Helen understand that "language" is the only solution to her frustrations.

6. How can Helen make her "fingers talk?"

Ans: Annie is trying to spell all the different names into Helen's hand so that she can make connections between the hand gestures and making others understand her. Helen can learn words (W-A-T-E-R is the word which will help Helen make her breakthrough.) by tapping them out with her hands.

7. In Act 3, James says to Kate "Open my mouth, like that fairy tale, frogs jump out." What fairy tale is he referring to?

Ans: Charles Perrault wrote a fairy tale which (in English) is entitled "The Fairies" and a wicked daughter is cruel to a princess who asks for a drink of water. The princess turns out to be a fairy who is testing the morals of mankind. By way of punishment, whenever the daughter speaks, a toad or snake comes out of her mouth.  

8. Why is the fairy tale significant in terms of James's relationship with his father and step-mother? 

Ans: James and his father have a very strained relationship and sometimes James says inappropriate things, mainly to get his father's attention. James is suggesting that he is always punished for saying inappropriate things, mainly because his father says equally hurtful things to him. 

9. How much will Annie be paid by the Keller's?

Ans: $25 per month. 

10. What is an antonym for "woebegone" which word is used to describe Annie's joke after she receives a ring from Mr Anagnos just before she leaves The Perkins' Institute to go and work for the Keller family. 

Ans: An antonym is a word opposite in meaning. Woebegone means that her joke shows her sadness, desperation and despair more than anything so a good antonym might be funny, cheerful or good-spirited. 

I hope these questions help you and are a good start for your remaining questions. Look at the attachments below which will help you.  

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