Annie says that when she and Jimmie were in the state almshouse, they used to play in "the deadhouse, where they kept the bodies till they could dig...the graves".
Annie relates the worst of her experiences as a child in the asylum to Captain and Kate Keller. She is trying to impress upon them the depth of the urgency she feels that Helen be taught to communicate. Annie firmly believes that if she is to be able to reach Helen, she must establish a position of control, a position which she has not been able to attain because of the doting interference of the Captain and Kate. Annie brings up the possibility that if Helen cannot learn, placement in an asylum might have to be considered as a grisly possibility.
Annie's memories of her time in the state almshouse are horrific. In addition to playing in the deadhouse, she remembers that she and her brother "play(ed) with the rats because (they) didn't have toys" The first year she was there, eighty babies were in residence, of which seventy died; her own brother Jimmie also eventually died in Tewksberry, an occurrence about which she is still haunted because of her inability to have prevented it. Annie wants to impress upon the Keller's how extremely important it is that Helen learn to communicate, because the alternative of possible placement in the asylum is totally unacceptable (Act 2).