The Miracle Worker

by

William Gibson

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James Keller is the adult son of Arthur Keller from his first marriage. Helen Keller is James’s half-sister, and Kate Keller is his stepmother. For most of the play, James is a laconic, wisecracking cynic. He thinks there’s no point in trying to teach Helen how to write, and he’s not shy about telling other people his opinion—including Annie Sullivan herself. Although James makes a show of being cool and disinterested, he’s actually very concerned with his relationship with his father, and seems to resent him for remarrying the much younger Kate Keller, viewing it as an insult to the memory of his mother. Over the course of the play, Annie’s lessons in communication inspire James to stand up to his father and even develop a friendship with Kate, suggesting that the play’s events catalyze something of a coming of age for James himself.

James Keller Quotes in The Miracle Worker

The The Miracle Worker quotes below are all either spoken by James Keller or refer to James Keller. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Communication Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Miracle Worker published in 2008.
Act 2 Quotes

JAMES: That she isn't. That there's such a thing as-dullness of heart. Acceptance. And letting go. Sooner or later we all give up, don't we?
ANNIE: Maybe you all do. It’s my idea of the original sin.

Related Characters: Annie Sullivan (speaker), James Keller (speaker), Helen Keller
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

JAMES [in pain] Don't—
KATE: Captain.
KELLER: He's afraid.
(He throws JAMES away from him, with contempt.)
What does he want out of me?
JAMES [AN OUTCRY]: My God, don't you know?
(He gazes from KELLER to KATE.)
Everything you forgot, when you forgot my mother.

Related Characters: Kate Keller (speaker), Captain Arthur Keller (speaker), James Keller (speaker)
Page Number: 75-76
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3 Quotes

JAMES: What does he want from me?
KATE: That's not the question. Stand up to the world, Jimmie, that comes first.
JAMES [A PAUSE, WRYLY]: But the world is him.
KATE: Yes. And no one can do it for you.
JAMES: Kate.
(His voice is humble.)
At least we—Could you—be my friend?
KATE: I am.

Related Characters: Kate Keller (speaker), James Keller (speaker), Captain Arthur Keller
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

JAMES [LIGHTLY]: And Jacob was left alone, and wrestled with an angel until the breaking of the day and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him; and the angel said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And Jacob said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. Amen.

Related Characters: James Keller (speaker)
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:

JAMES: She's right, Kate's right, I'm right, and you're wrong. If you drive her away from here it will be over my dead-chair, has it never occurred to you that on one occasion you might be consummately wrong?

Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Miracle Worker LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Miracle Worker PDF

James Keller Character Timeline in The Miracle Worker

The timeline below shows where the character James Keller appears in The Miracle Worker. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Family Theme Icon
...table studying a newspaper while Aunt Ev sews a doll and a young man named James Keller sits by the window watching the children. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...Keller for permission to write to the oculist, but Arthur refuses. He stands up and James mutters, “Father stands up, that makes it a fact.” He suggests that Arthur send Helen... (full context)
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...two echoing voices can be heard. They belong to the young Annie and her brother, James (or Jimmie) Sullivan. The voice of young Annie tells her younger brother, “I’m takin’ care... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Arthur Keller arrives downstairs, where he notices that James is dressed nicely. James explains that he’s dressing for Annie Sullivan, who’s due to arrive... (full context)
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The lights dim, revealing Annie Sullivan standing outside a railroad station, where James and Kate are waiting. James greets her and introduces himself. Annie replies, “I had a... (full context)
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
The lights dim, and when they rise, Annie, James, and Kate are coming back to the house. Arthur Keller greets Annie politely, just as... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Annie takes Helen’s hand and gently manipulates the fingers, spelling out “D-O-L-L” in sign language. James, who’s been watching from the doorway, says, “You spell pretty well.” Annie explains that she’s... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
James hears Annie’s yelling, but instead of unlocking the door, goes out to the porch and... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
The lights rise. Kate tells James to summon Arthur Keller for supper. James calls out to his father, and when Kate... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
...to carry her down. Annie agrees, trying to look “as composed and ladylike as possible.” James notices Annie and quips, “might as well leave the l, a, d, d, e, r,”... (full context)
Act 2
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...and Kate tries to eat her eggs while Helen pokes at the plate. Arthur and James argue about the Civil War, James taking the position that Grant was the superior general... (full context)
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Furiously, Arthur asks Kate to come outside and talk with him. James leaves also, leaving Annie and Helen alone. While Annie and Helen struggle, Arthur tells Kate... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...the characters move furniture from the house to the garden house. When the lights rise, James is in the garden house with Annie, carrying Annie’s suitcase. James points out that Annie... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
As James walks out, Kate and Arthur appear, leading Helen to the garden house. Kate explains that... (full context)
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Meanwhile, in the house, James Keller mockingly asks Kate, how Annie manages to get everything she wants out of Kate.... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...she’s proud of him for letting Annie have control over Helen. Arthur wonders aloud why James, his own son, can’t stand him. Gently, Kate suggests that Arthur is too hard on... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...herself, she begins singing a lullaby to the doll “in mock solicitude.” As she sings, James, asleep in the main house, turns as if he’d heard the song, followed by Arthur... (full context)
Act 3
Family Theme Icon
...Kate that she needs to eat something. Kate complains that she’s restless and nervous, but James says that the house has been blissfully silent—a statement that infuriates Arthur. Annie continues to... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Meanwhile, figures gather outside the garden house. As the bell tolls six, James, Viney, Percy, and Martha enter the garden house and remove Annie and Helen’s things, bringing... (full context)
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...key from the lock. She runs to Kate, who takes the keys back from her. James walks into the house while, outside, Viney pumps water from the water pump. At supper,... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Helen gleefully throws her fork to the floor. Wearily, James says, “I think we’ve started all over.” Helen finds a pitcher of water and swings... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...time, there are no echoing voices. Very slowly, Kate sits down to the table, joining James and Arthur. Aunt Ev gets up to open the door, and Annie, holding Helen in... (full context)