All my sons - Referat
„All my sons“
A play by
1.) Biography of Arthur Miller
Arthur A. Miller was born into a moderately wealthy Jewish family in New York City on October 17, 1915. Miller was an American playwright, essayist and author. He was a prominent figure in American literature and cinema for over 61 years, writing a wide variety of plays. Miller's best-known works are The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, All My Sons (which won the 1947 Tony Award for best play), and Death of a Salesman, which are still widely studied and performed world wide. He was also known for his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Miller died on February 10, 2005.
The play takes place at the end of the Second World War, in August 1948 in the outskirts of an American town and is focused on the Keller family. Larry, Kate’s and Joe Keller’s son, is missing in action for more than three years in the war. Kate is strongly persuaded that Larry is still alive and returns back home one day, whereas the rest of the family doesn’t believes that he is still alive. The father of Larry and Chris, Joe Keller was in prison because he produced defect parts for planes which were responsible for the death of twenty pilots. While Joe was released from prison, his partner, who is simultaneous Annie’s and Georges’s father, is still found guilty in jail. Annie, who was first engaged to Larry, also believes in his death. Chris, who is in the meanwhile making good business together with his father Joe, is now planning to marry her. Kate doesn’t accepts their plan because in her opinion it would be a deceive on Larry. After visiting his father in jail, Annie’s brother Georges comes to see the Keller family. After a long discussion it turns out, that Joe knew about the broken parts which he produced and that he didn’t wanted to loose any money by making new parts. Further Annie reads out a letter which she received from Larry, in which he tells that he knew about his father, producing broken parts for airplanes, which caused the dead of the twenty pilots. Because (/As?) Larry felt so ashamed for him, he committed suicide. Therefore Kate’s belief that Larry is still alive is from then on destroyed and the play ends with the suicide of Joe Keller.
2.) Analysis of characters
Joe Keller He is sixty-one years old, Kate’s husband and the father of Larry and Chris. Further he is responsible for the death of twenty-one persons, among them his own son, but he’s too coward to tell his family, or at least his wife, about it. -> For me, he is very cold-blooded. His business is most important to him. In addition, it seems as if Chris is his favourite son. In the end, he kills himself because he finds no other way out of this trouble and of being guilty.
Kate Keller She’s in her early fifties. Kate is full of love, warmth, patience and hope. She even treats Annie and George as if they were her own children. Although her son Larry is missing in action since the second world war, she still hopes her dear son will return home one day.
Chris Keller Chris is thirty-two years old. It comes out that he changed his personality since he was in the war because now where he’s back home, he feels depressed that nothing has changed in the world. Although he’s making good business together with his father Joe Keller, he kind of feels guilty and as a fact, he has a bad conscience. In some way, he’s deceiving his brother by planning to marry his fiancée Annie. In the end, when the father commits suicide he feels responsible about it and thinks it is his fault that it happened.
,,Annie” (=Ann Deever) Annie is twenty-six years old. First, she is engaged to Larry but some time after his disappearance she starts lettering with Larry’s brother Chris. They fall in love and when she comes to visit the Keller’s, Chris asks her to get married. She is confident and ashamed of her guilty father, who’s in prison. But finally she finds out, that all neighbours have no doubt, that Joe Keller is the one who is guilty. In the end, she serves the letter of Larry, including the message that he committed suicide because of feeling ashamed of his own father for what he did.
George Deever George is Annie’s older brother and thirty-one years old. He’s a successful lawyer in New York. Until he visited his father in jail, he also thinks that he’s culpable. But after he met him, he finds out that he’s guiltless and therefore he wants to prevent the marriage of his sister Annie and Chris.
3.) Themes and Symbols
The American dream In Arthur Miller’s play “All my sons” you learn a lot about the bad side of the American dream. Joe Keller became so to speak, from rags to riches. First, he was an uneducated man with only little money, who then successfully leads his own factory. Furthermore, he has a nice family with two children and they all live in a house. Anyways, he is so into his business that although he knows, that the cracked cylinder heads will trigger the crash of many airplanes, he doesn’t prevent it – although he could. Keller is just too afraid that his factory could go bankrupt. His excuse for this action is that he did it all for his family - to make them happy and earn enough money. In my opinion, Keller is very selfish, material and avaricious and his excuse is only a idle lie because he should know that his family would never want him to kill anybody just to keep on having enough money and not going bankrupt. In the end he commits suicide as an escape of being guilty.
Responsibility On one hand there is the “individual's responsibility” of Joe Keller to his family , on the other hand Keller’s responsibility to the society. Furthermore the responsibility for Keller himself that he could (or couldn’t?) live a "normal" life while knowing that he betrays even his own family.
The tree As a memorial to Larry, the Keller’s planted a tree in their garden. Maybe the tree stood there for the hope that grows and grows every day, that Larry will return back home again one day. When the tree cracked down by the storm, it was a sign, especially for the mother, that Larry was dead.
Suicide of Joe Keller His suicide was caused, so that Chris from then on could live without feeling guilty and Joe Keller himself too.
Larry’s letter to Annie Annie is the only one who really knows, that Larry isn’t alive anymore and why he isn’t - because of his letter. Nevertheless she keeps it secret until the end, when she starts reading it out.
a) Maybe Annie says that because she sees what a good relation Chris has to his parents. Although they are already a little bit old and Chris also is, they keep on having fun, making jokes and going out together. Usually, it’s mostly no more common to have such a good relationship with his parents at this time and at this age.
b) In this scene, the mother tells Chris to keep on believing that Larry’s alive. But if he isn’t, he got killed by his father, Joe Keller.
c) Joe is Larry’s father and as a father you have the responsibility of your son. Larry says that they were all his sons, because he carries the responsibility for their death although he could have avoid it.
6.) My own appreciation
At the beginning I found the play a little bit boring but after the second part of Act One I could quickly feel myself into the emotional role of the characters and the dramatic storyline. The play shows us that people in the end (always?) pay for their bad actions, so as Joe Keller did. Further, you could see what some people are able to do, only to live the American Dream – this I found awful. In general, I found the play was easy and quick to read but finally I had a few little problems with the content and the connections. All in all, I found the play was OK, maybe for the reason that I’m generally not a big fan of plays but rather prefer novels.
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