All My Sons is a play written by Arthur Miller. It takes place in two days and is just a few years after World War Two. The play only has one set and it is the back yard of the Keller’s where there is a tree that has been split in half. This play was instrumental in launching the career of Miller. It is also a tragedy that deals with the greed of America and a skewed version of one’s duty toward country.
The play starts act one off in the morning with Joe Keller the main character, Dr. Jim Bayliss, and Frank who is the first to point out the fallen tree that served as a memorial to Larry Joe Keller’s son who went missing in action. They talk about the tree and Keller mentions that Annie is sleeping upstairs. Annie is the daughter of Keller’s former partner Steve, who was convicted for selling the air force bad parts for one hundred and twenty-one planes. Then Chris Keller makes his first appearance after both the neighbors wives stop bye. Chris is the other son of Joe Keller and tells his father that he invited Annie because he wants to ask her to marry him.
His father isn’t entirely excited about the idea because Annie was Larry’s girl and if she were to marry Chris that would be admitting the death of Larry who Kate Keller still thinks is alive although Joe and Chris both have accepted that he is dead. Kate Keller is the wife of Joe and mother of Chris and Larry. Mrs. Keller thinks the broken tree is a sign that Larry will be coming home. When Chris tells his mother that she should try and forget about Larry she acts hysterical and threatens to kill herself.
The next character that enters is Annie who provides plenty of awkward moments and it is then when you find out about Annie’s father and Joe’s business and the case. Then the first act ends with Annie getting a phone call from her brother George who is in New York where their father is being held. The second act starts later in the day when Mother tells Chris that she thinks that George will reopen the case. In a later conversation Annie says that he should tell his mother about them.
The next significant thing to happen is when George enters. George tells Annie that she is not going to marry Chris because the Keller’s ruined their family. Then the conversation goes on to explain what the other side of the story is. Steve was at work alone that day and Joe stayed home sick. Steve called and asked Joe if they should send off the defected shipment and Joe said they could. According to George, Joe stayed home to protect himself so they couldn’t connect him to the shipment.
After a an argument between Chris and his Mother about packing Annie’s bags Chris and his father talk and Joe doesn’t deny telling Steve to send the shipment. Joe goes on to defend himself that the parts weren’t for the type of plane that Larry flew. Chris doesn’t care because his dad had a suspicion that the planes would crash and that he is responsible for the twenty-one deaths then the second act ends with Chris leaving. The third act takes place at two o’clock in the morning the next day.
Mother is on the porch waiting for Chris to come back talking with Jim the doctor. She tells him that it is surprising that Chris took the news the way he did because she was sure that he knew all along. Jim tells her that he will come back because he is a good son. Joe and Mrs. Keller have a conversation and she tells him that he must tell Chris what happened and why. She also tells him that if Chris asks him to go to prison that he should go. Annie enters and has the idea that mother should tell Chris that Larry is dead so that they can happily live together.
Kate of course doesn’t agree because she believes that Larry is alive and that Annie must two. At this point Annie brings out the letter. Mother reads it and begins to cry and Chris returns. Chris says that he will go away without Annie that way he won’t have to send his father to jail. Annie then hands the letter to Chris and he reads it aloud. Larry writes Annie that he found out about what happened with his and her father and says that if his father was there with him he would kill him.
It continues that he has a mission in a few minutes and that they will probably report him missing, but she shouldn’t wait for him. Father goes inside and tells them to get the car ready implying that he is going to jail. Kate tries to stop him, but stays outside then a gunshot sounds off. This play was very important to Miller’s career because without it his career wouldn’t have had the success that it had. The reason for this is because he had an earlier play that was a failure and this very well could have been his last shot at trying to be a playwright.
Luckily this play was a success so Miller was able to create his other popular works like Death of a Salesman and the Crucible. It would be hard to argue that this play is anything but a tragedy. It makes the American dream almost seem like a bad thing since in the play Joe does what he thinks is the best for his family and business. In this process he ends up killing twenty-one people and getting his partner thrown in jail. It is probably a shot a capitalism since Miller was blacklisted and it involves heavy consequences for the Keller family to succeed in their business.