Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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Who is Kate in The Miracle Worker?

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Kate Keller is Helen Keller's mother. She loves her daughter fiercely, and unlike her husband and stepson, she refuses to give up on a chance for Helen to have a normal life. Kate is gentle and sweet-tempered, but she will do whatever it takes to protect her daughter.

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In William Gibson's play The Miracle Worker, Kate Keller is Helen Keller's mother and the second wife of Arthur Keller. She loves her daughter fiercely and is willing to do anything it takes to provide her a chance at a normal life.

When Helen is a baby, Kate is the first one to notice her physical disabilities. As Helen grows older, though Kate loves her, she is unable to adequately care for her. A naturally kind and sweet-tempered woman, Kate is hesitant to discipline Helen, because she fears that Helen won't understand what is happening to her. She champions her daughter's independence and fights to keep her from being sent to an institution.

Kate is also the member of the Keller family who is most interested in trying whatever it takes to help Helen. While Arthur and Helen's half-brother James become dismissive of the various treatments presented to aid Helen, Kate is relentlessly optimistic and persevering. She encourages Arthur to write to different specialists and seek out help wherever it can be found, despite his reluctance.

Keller. Katie. How many times can you let them break your heart?

Kate. Any number of times.

Annie Sullivan is just the latest in a series of attempts to give her daughter a better life. This is part of why she is so supportive of Annie's methods even when her husband disagrees with them. Though she still struggles to discipline her daughter, she believes Annie is the best chance of Helen learning to live with her disabilities.

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Catherine Everett Adams, known to her family as Kate, was born into an upper-class family in the Confederacy in 1856. Her father served as an officer in the Confederate Army, as did her future husband, Arthur Keller, who was twenty years older than Kate. In 1880, Kate and Arthur became the parents of Helen Keller.

William Gibson's play The Miracle Worker is primarily about the relationship between Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. This reflects Keller's own autobiographical writings, in which Sullivan appears as the central figure of her early years. Kate Keller, therefore, is often relegated to the background, despite being Helen's mother. Kate is portrayed as a kindly and loving mother who does everything she can to teach her daughter to communicate. It is the skills, rather than the motivation, that she lacks. However, she regards Helen as being helpless and continues to treat her as a baby throughout her childhood.

Kate generally seems to cope well with the special bond that her daughter forges with another woman. However, she is a lonely figure at the end of the play, when Helen spells into her hand not the word "mother" but "teacher." Gibson describes this moment as one "in which she simultaneously finds and loses a child." At the end of the play, Kate goes into the house, leaving Helen and Annie together in the garden.

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What would be the best description for Kate in The Miracle Worker?

The Miracle Worker by William Gibson was originally written for television and was adapted for the stage, opening on Broadway in 1959. It is based on the true story of Annie Sullivan's attempts to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller when Helen was seven years old. Kate Keller is Helen's mother, the second wife of Captain Arthur Keller. Kate is much younger than her husband and is also step-mother to James, Helen's half brother.

Kate is a loving, indulgent mother but this has allowed Helen to become unruly and basically unmanageable. She is anxious to try anything to help her daughter and manages to persuade Helen's dominant father that Annie Sullivan, whom he is inclined to dismiss, should be given a chance because she knows that Helen has potential, desperately mentioning that "It’s still in her, somewhere, isn’t it?" (Act II) . It is very difficult for Kate to relinquish control of Helen to Annie but she knows that, otherwise, Helen will no doubt be sent to an institution, "an asylum."

Helen touches her cheek to indicate that she is looking for her mother but Annie insists that the only way to help Helen is to not give in to her all the time and so Kate agrees because she recognizes the truth in Annie's words - "I don’t think Helen’s worst handicap is deafness or blindness. I think it’s your love. And pity." She is encouraged by Helen's folding of her napkin, a huge step forward for the otherwise petulant child. Despite the many setbacks, she believes in Annie and Helen's development is phenomenal.      

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