Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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In The Miracle Worker, what are the similarities between James' and Annie's lives in Act 3's opening scene?

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The opening of Act 3 reveals that both James and Annie have many similarities in terms of their character. The biggest similarity they share is their feeling of inadequacy. As James makes clear when his father leaves the table, he feels that he is not accepted and loved for who he is as Keller's son. Note how he asks Kate, "What does he want from me?" He doesn't understand what he needs to do to earn his father's approval, and feels more and more as if he has failed as a result.

In the same way, not Annie's own feelings of personal failure as she reads out what she writes so laboriously:

“I, feel, every, day, more, and, more, in—” (She pauses, and turns the pages of a dictionary open before her; her finger descends the words to a full stop. She elevates her eyebrows, then copies the word.) “—adequate.”

The way in which her lines and the lines of James are interspersed effectively juxtapose the feelings of the two characters. Just as James feels so inadequate, so too does Annie by the task that she faces and the difficulties that she has. It is clear from this section that the two characters have a lot more in common than they first might think.

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