Children of a Lesser God

by Mark Medoff

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Act I Summary

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The primary action of Children of a Lesser God takes place inside the mind of James Leeds. Time is not linear during the play, and characters "step from his memory for anything from a full scene to several lines," and place changes rapidly on a bare stage that holds "only a few benches and a blackboard." James is a speech teacher at a State School for the Deaf. He meets Sarah Norman, a cleaning woman who has been deaf from birth and has resided at the school since the age of five.

Two other students meet with James for speech therapy on a regular basis: Orin, a contemporary of Sarah who has become an apprentice teacher at the school, and Lydia, a girl in her late teens who develops a crush on James. As the relationship between Sarah and James grows, Orin distances himself from James, while Lydia becomes more infatuated with her teacher.

Sarah's mother, known only as Mrs. Norman in the play, appears at first to be a bitter woman, one whose husband left at the same time her daughter was sent away to the State School for the Deaf. Later, James brings Sarah to her mother's house and forces a reunion. The two women reconcile and Mrs. Norman attends James and Sarah's wedding.

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Act II Summary