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A. Anticipating George's Arrival

  1. Considering Kate's Concerns
    This is part of the dialogue between Kate (Mother) and Chris that takes place at the beginning of the act (pp. 41-42) before Ann's brother George arrives . Read the dialogue and then answer the questions that follow. Share what you have written with a partner.


    And what's Dad sleeping so much for?


    He's worried. When he's worried, he sleeps. We're dumb, Chris, we're stupid people. We don't know anything. You've got to protect us.


    You're silly; what's there to be afraid of?


    To his last day in court Steve never gave up the idea that Dad made him do it. If they're going to open the case again I won't live through it.


    George is just a damn fool, Mother. How can you take him seriously?


    That family hates us. Maybe even Annie .


    Oh, now, Mother. . .


    You think just because you like everybody, they like you!


    All right, stop working yourself up. Just leave everything to me.


    When George goes home, tell her to go with him.


    Don't worry about Annie.


    Steve is her father, too.

    Discussion Questions

    1.   Why do you believe Kate is so upset? How can Chris "protect" his
    mother and father?

    What do you think of Chris's reaction to his mother's concerns?
    Is he the smart one or the "stupid" one here? Is he being realistic
    about the importance of George's arrival?

    3.   What impact do you think George's imminent arrival will have?
    Could his arrival be perceived as the "train that never comes in"?

  2. Working With Vocabulary: Are the Kellers "Holier than Thou"?

    at the end of her rope
    cast aspersions
    driving . crazy
    give up
    take up housekeeping
    turn his back on

    Complete these paragraphs by writing the above words where they belong on the blanks.

        In a conversation with Annie before her brother George's arrival, Sue asks her for a small (1) : Would she and Chris please live far away from the neighborhood once they get married and (2) ? Sue tells Annie that she is tired of Chris's "phony (3) ." She says that because of it she is now (4) . Plain and simple, Chris is (5)  her husband and making him unhappy as a result. She explains that Dr. Jim, who is a good doctor, has always wanted to do medical research and (6) things. However, because research does not pay much, it is not practical for a family man like her husband to devote his life to it despite its ultimate value for humanity. As Sue says, to be a researcher, "You've got to (7) your life to go into it."

        What troubles Sue about Chris is that he makes people want to be better than it is possible for them to be -- so much so, in fact, that after her husband spends some time with Chris, he starts feeling that he is (8) his life by not pursuing a research career. Sue is afraid that her husband has put Chris on a pedestal. He idolizes a (9) , not a real man. Sue insists that the integrity of Chris's actions is questionable since he draws (10) from his father's business every week. Why, in fact, doesn't Chris see, as everyone else in the neighborhood does, that the money from his father's business is dirty?

        Annie resents what Sue implies and tells her not to (11) . However, like it or not, these questions must undoubtedly surface in her mind: Has Chris's head been buried too much in the sand? Might Joe be as guilty as the neighbors believe he is? If, in fact, Joe Keller was guilty for the same crime as her father, would Chris (12) his father as she did on hers?

    What do you think? Write a short paragraph in response to the following questions. Then share what you have written with a partner.

    1. Do you believe Joe Keller is guilty? Why or why not?
    2. Do you think Chris will turn his back on his father if he learns that Joe Keller actually did share the guilt for the crime with Ann's father? Why or why not?
    3. If your answer to #2 was "yes," how do you think Joe Keller would respond?
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