Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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Kate's discoveries about Helen in The Miracle Worker


In The Miracle Worker, Kate discovers that Helen, despite her disabilities, is highly intelligent and capable of learning. Kate observes Helen's ability to imitate and understand sign language, revealing her potential for communication and interaction with the world around her.

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What does Kate realize about her relationship with Helen at the end of The Miracle Worker?

Kate realizes that it is Annie (Teacher) who has become the primary influence on Helen’s life, even though she is her mother. It is Annie who has found the secret of communicating with Helen, which Helen recognizes at the water pump. In order to communicate with Helen, Kate must learn from Annie the finger alphabet and how to reach Helen. It is true that Helen learned some self-invented sign language to communicate with her mother, but she did not learn anything beyond the basic requests of childhood. To go on to advanced and abstract language, all teaching must come from Annie, both for Helen and for Kate. Kate has taken a step back as a mother, allowing Annie to be the primary source of knowledge and even love and affection. The family has become secondary; the teacher has become primary.

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What does Kate discover about Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker?

Kate Adams Keller is Helen's mother. Though her daughter Helen is born normally, the child contracts scarlet fever, a disease which leaves her blind and deaf. Kate discovers this tragedy one day after Helen's illness; she passes her hand over her daughter's eyes and Helen fails to register any recognition. She also does not hear a ringing bell. The observation confirms the worst; Helen would remain blind and deaf for the remainder of her life. Fortunately, with the help of Annie Sullivan, the teacher who comes to help Helen, she is able to not only communicate, but even attend college.

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In The Miracle Worker, how did Kate Keller discover Helen's blindness and deafness?

The story of Helen Keller is an inspiration to many people and The Miracle Worker by William Gibson reveals the extraordinary lengths that Annie Sullivan went to in order to help Helen reach her full potential. Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller became life-long friends and Annie ensured that Helen persevered, even attending university with her and helping her understand her lectures through sign language, signing against Helen's hand.

When Annie arrives at the Keller home, Helen is already six years old and has been without any real means of communication since she was eighteen months old. Helen had been extremely ill as a baby and had not been expected to live through the terrible fever, attributed to "acute congestion of the stomach." However, she pulled through and her doctor had been convinced that the worst was over and Helen would recover due to having "more vitality" than any other baby he had ever seen.   

As Helen's father sees the doctor out, Kate, Helen's mother, marvels at her baby daughter, talking to her affectionately and trying to stop her from crying. She notices that there is no response when she passes her hand across her daughter's face. She also snaps her fingers and, in her panic, shouts for her husband. She further notices that Helen does not respond to her shouts either and the terrible realization begins to dawn on her. Kate and her husband, Captain Keller, are shocked, confused and terrified at Kate's discovery. 

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In The Miracle Worker, what does Kate discover about Helen?

The correct completion of this sentence is as follows:  Kate discovers that Helen is able to learn the gift of language thanks to her teacher, Annie.  We see this in the climactic scene of the play when Helen finally learns the word "water."  After grasping the concept of language, Helen stops long enough to wonder who opened up this world for her.  Annie signs the word "teacher" into Helen's hand.

Helen stands thinking it over, then turns again and stumbles back to her parents.  They try to embrace her, but she has something else in mind. ... Helen spells a word to her.  Kate comprehends it, their first act of verbal communication, and she can hardly utter the word aloud, in wonder, gratitude, and deprivation, it is a moment in which she simultaneously finds and loses a child.

Kate:  Teacher?

Annie turns, and Kate, facing Helen in her direction by the shoulders, holds her back, holds her back, and then relinquishes her. ... Helen slides into Annie's arms, and lifting away her smoked glasses, kisses her on the cheek.  Annie gathers her in.  Kate torn both ways turns from this, ... and makes her way into the house.

Before this moment, Kate secretly hoped that it was a mother's love that would grant Helen the concept of language.  It was not.  It was the harsh hand of a loving teacher.  Even with the epiphany of the day, Kate still has a hard time accepting this, especially the fact that the very first word Helen spelled wasn't "mom" but was "teacher."  Oh, there are many different kinds of love, Helen.  Congrats to you for learning a new way of love that day!

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