The Miracle Worker

by

William Gibson

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Kate Keller is the mother of Helen Keller and the second, considerably younger wife of Captain Arthur Keller. A kind and loving woman, Kate is a loyal mother to Helen, trying again and again to teach her to talk and communicate. She convinces her husband to hire some of the finest doctors in the country and she’s instrumental in reaching out to Annie Sullivan, the teacher who ultimately teaches Helen to use sign language. And yet there is something constraining and stifling about Kate’s relationship with her daughter. She loves Helen, but she also babies Helen excessively, to the point where Helen has no incentive to learn to communicate: Kate gives Helen candy and attention no matter what she does. At the end of the play, it is Annie, not Kate, who embraces Helen, perhaps signaling that while Kate is Helen’s loving mother, it is Annie who has become the true maternal presence in Helen’s life.

Kate Keller Quotes in The Miracle Worker

The The Miracle Worker quotes below are all either spoken by Kate Keller or refer to Kate 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 1 Quotes

KELLER: Katie. How many times can you let them break your heart?
KATE: Any number of times.

Related Characters: Kate Keller (speaker), Captain Arthur Keller (speaker), Helen Keller
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2 Quotes

ANNIE: Any baby. Gibberish, grown-up gibberish, baby-talk gibberish, do they understand one word of it to start? Somehow they begin to. If they hear it, I'm letting Helen hear it.

Related Characters: Annie Sullivan (speaker), Helen Keller, Kate Keller
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

KATE: Miss Annie. You see, she's accustomed to helping herself from our plates to anything she—
ANNIE [Evenly]: Yes, but, I'm not accustomed to it.

Related Characters: Annie Sullivan (speaker), Kate Keller (speaker), Helen Keller
Page Number: 47-48
Explanation and Analysis:

KATE: My Helen—folded her napkin—
(And still erect, with only her head in surrender, KATE for the first time that we see loses her protracted war with grief; but she will not let a sound escape her, only the grimace of tears comes, and sobs that shake her in a grip of silence.)

Related Characters: Kate Keller (speaker), Helen Keller
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

ANNIE: Mrs. Keller, I don't think Helen's worst handicap is deafness or blindness. I think it's your love. And pity.

Related Characters: Annie Sullivan (speaker), Helen Keller, Kate Keller
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

ANNIE: The first year we had eighty, seventy died. The room Jimmie and I played in was the deadhouse, where they kept the bodies till they could dig—
KATE [closes her eyes]: Oh, my dear—
ANNIE: —the graves.
(She is immune to KATE's compassion.)
No, it made me strong. But I don't think you need send Helen there. She's strong enough.

Related Characters: Annie Sullivan (speaker), Kate Keller (speaker), James Sullivan / “Jimmie” (speaker), Helen Keller
Page Number: 69
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:

ANNIE: Yes, what's it to me? They're satisfied. Give them back their child and dog, both housebroken, everyone's satisfied. But me, and you.

Page Number: 94
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:

(KATE moves to HELEN, touches her hand questioningly, and 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?

Related Characters: Kate Keller (speaker), Helen Keller
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Miracle Worker LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Miracle Worker PDF

Kate Keller Character Timeline in The Miracle Worker

The timeline below shows where the character Kate Keller appears in The Miracle Worker. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
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...begins late at night in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in the 1880s. A couple—a young woman named Kate Keller and a “hearty gentleman in his forties” named Captain Arthur Keller—are standing around a... (full context)
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...the doctor that he has raised two children already, but that this is his wife Kate’s first child. The doctor advises the couple to wait for their baby daughter to get... (full context)
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While Arthur Keller walks the doctor outside, Kate embraces her baby, murmuring that Arthur will post an editorial in his newspaper. Suddenly, she... (full context)
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As soon as Helen attacks Martha, Percy rings a bell, which summons Kate Keller to come outside. Kate pulls the scissors out of Helen’s hands, and Martha and... (full context)
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As Kate tries to pull Helen into the house, Aunt Ev murmurs, “Something ought to be done... (full context)
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Kate asks Arthur Keller for permission to write to the oculist, but Arthur refuses. He stands... (full context)
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...then realizes what Helen is trying to do: “she wants the doll to have eyes.” Kate takes pins and buttons from the sewing basket, attaches them to the doll, and gives... (full context)
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...Suddenly, she overturns the cradle and Mildred comes tumbling out, but Arthur Keller catches her. Kate shouts to Helen that she mustn’t do things like this, and Arthur insists that it’s... (full context)
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...when they go up, we’re back in the Keller household. Upstairs, Helen sits alone. Downstairs, Kate adjusts her bonnet, while a black servant named Viney attends to her. Kate explains to... (full context)
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...dressed nicely. James explains that he’s dressing for Annie Sullivan, who’s due to arrive today. Kate greets Arthur and tells him that she’s headed off to meet Annie. Alone, Arthur studies... (full context)
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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 brother Jimmie.”... (full context)
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Annie, recognizing that Kate looks dismayed, tries to “take the bull by the horns.” She admits that she’s young... (full context)
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The lights dim, and when they rise, Annie, James, and Kate are coming back to the house. Arthur Keller greets Annie politely, just as Helen Keller... (full context)
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As Annie meets Helen, Arthur and Kate talk about Annie. Kate likes her, but Arthur finds her “rough,” remarking that northerners “certainly... (full context)
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The lights rise. Kate tells James to summon Arthur Keller for supper. James calls out to his father, and... (full context)
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Arthur, realizing that Kate will never find the key, takes the ladder and climbs up to Annie’s room, telling... (full context)
Act 2
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Kate passes by the doorway and sees what Annie is doing. Annie explains that she’s teaching... (full context)
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...the sewing card. Helen takes the needle and pokes Annie’s finger with it. Just then, Kate gives Helen some candy, which Helen accepts. Annie asks why Kate is rewarding Helen for... (full context)
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...pump water. Inside, Helen is wandering around the table, Annie is studying Helen carefully, and Kate tries to eat her eggs while Helen pokes at the plate. Arthur and James argue... (full context)
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Arthur and Kate explain to Annie that Helen is “accustomed to helping herself from our plates.” Annie retorts,... (full context)
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Furiously, Arthur asks Kate to come outside and talk with him. James leaves also, leaving Annie and Helen alone.... (full context)
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Helen wanders toward Kate’s chair, touching it with her hand. Annie goes over to Helen and tries to spell... (full context)
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The room goes dark. Meanwhile, Kate, Viney, Aunt Ev, Mildred, Percy, and Martha stand outside. Aunt Ev complains that she’s been... (full context)
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...her own plate, used a spoon, and folded her napkin. Annie retires to her room. Kate repeats, “My Helen-folded her napkin.” She begins to weep, as if she’s finally losing “her... (full context)
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...feet and begins putting things in her suitcase. Meanwhile, in the garden house, Arthur and Kate argue about Annie, Arthur claiming that Annie can’t be much of a teacher if Helen... (full context)
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...able to teach Helen, so long as she’s allowed to run wild. This news startles Kate. Kate tells Annie that Helen has always been bright—she even began talking when she was... (full context)
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...and pity. Annie will never be able to teach Helen, so long as Arthur and Kate spoil her. Annie is willing to stay on, but only if Arthur and Kate give... (full context)
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Annie tells Kate and Arthur about her own childhood. She grew up in “the state almshouse,” along with... (full context)
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Alone in the garden house, Annie takes Kate’s hand and shows her the alphabet. The lights dim while, slowly, the characters move furniture... (full context)
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As James walks out, Kate and Arthur appear, leading Helen to the garden house. Kate explains that they’ve been driving... (full context)
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Meanwhile, in the house, James Keller mockingly asks Kate, how Annie manages to get everything she wants out of Kate. Furious, Arthur twists James’s... (full context)
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Alone, Kate tells Arthur she’s proud of him for letting Annie have control over Helen. Arthur wonders... (full context)
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...the main house, turns as if he’d heard the song, followed by Arthur Keller and Kate Keller. (full context)
Act 3
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Meanwhile, in the house, Arthur is telling Kate that she needs to eat something. Kate complains that she’s restless and nervous, but James... (full context)
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Just then, Kate enters the garden house and inquires what Annie is doing. Annie quickly puts her glasses... (full context)
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...But he agrees not to bring Helen back to the house until six. He and Kate exit the garden house, leaving the dog behind. (full context)
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Kate comes to the garden house. Annie, seeing Kate, touches Helen’s hand to Kate’s cheek and... (full context)
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...Helen feels the front door and removes the key from the lock. She runs to Kate, who takes the keys back from her. James walks into the house while, outside, Viney... (full context)
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...of the porch, and the trellis. Annie calls for the Kellers to run outside. When Kate and Arthur rush outside, Annie guides Helen toward each one of her parents and then... (full context)
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...Helen repeats it back to her. Helen then turns back to her mother. She taps Kate’s pocket until Kate retrieves the keys and gives them to Helen. It is their first... (full context)
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...the color of the past.” But this time, there are no echoing voices. Very slowly, Kate sits down to the table, joining James and Arthur. Aunt Ev gets up to open... (full context)