The play ‘ All My Sons’ by Arthur Miller is a very twisted play in which Miller makes our attitude towards the central character –Joe Keller- change several times. Set against the context of mid-west America in 1947, Arthur Millar’s ‘ All My Sons’ tells the tale of Joe Keller a sixty one year old business man who supplied the army with plane parts. One lot of parts came out one day and Steve Deever, Joe’s business partner found out that the cylinder heads they were defaulted. Steve called Joe and told him about this problem and Joe told him to send them out, knowing that they were broken.
During the war 21 Pilots died due to the broken parts and Joe and Steve got arrested and put in jail. Joe denied the phone call in court and managed to get himself exonerated and left his partner Steve Deever in jail to take the blame himself. At the start of the play our initial assumptions the character of Joe Keller is put across to the reader as a man who has worked very had throughout the course of his life and would put his family before all else.
Keller is also portrayed as a very popular man with the youngsters and neighbours. I got all the kids crazy! ” This quotation is taken after a conversation Joe has with Bert – a kid in the neighbourhood-were Joe is having a good laugh and playing with him. During this conversation we get the vibe that Joe has a good relationship with a lot of his neighbours and their children. This use of the word ‘ all’ and not just ‘ I got some of the kids going crazy’ is very clear and keeps the idea of him being a very popular man. This draws the reader to Joe in a very friendly and start to like Joe as a character. As the play continues Miller really continues with Joe Keller’s character and the love he has for his family. Joe as a very strong, father and son relationship with Chris is remaining son.
This relationship Joe and Chris have is one of the main themes of the play. “ Chris, I want you to use what I made for you. ” Joe Sais this line while they are talking about Chris’ future and what Joe wants him to achieve.
Joe also said he wanted to build Chris a stone house with a good driveway, this shows that Joe really cares for Chris and obviously wants him to have a really good standard of living. This father and son relationship is a very effective though-out the play as it shows how close they are and it would be devastating if they fell out. While the play progresses and the character or Joe Keller changes this relationships importance grows.
At this stage in the play, Joe Keller is still a really nice guy. During act one Chris and Joe are having a talk about Anne – Larry’s girl – and Chris mentions that he is going to marry her despite Anne being his brother’s girlfriend. “ I ignore what I gotta ignore. The girl is Larry’s girl. In this scene Joe and Chris are having a bit of a heated argument over the fact that Anne was Larry’s girl before he died out in the war. Normally a father would support his son in a life changing decision as big as getting married, but Joe, the loving father seems to step back and doesn’t seem to want anything to do with the engagement.
This is a really successful way in hinting to the reader that there is something lying beneath the surface of Joe Keller’s friendly and caring nature. As the Play progresses we realise that there is more to Joe’s character and that he is trying to hide something. This thought arises when Kate hears Joe talking to a kid about him having a jail. “ There’s no jail here! I want you to stop that whole jail business! ” Keller has really provoked something within his wife, Kate here as she is getting wound up about the whole situation they find themselves in. This hint is very clear as it seriously makes the reader wonder why Kate is becoming so annoyed by the fact that Joe is just playing around with a kid that lives near him. Here we really begin to see a flaw in Joe’s character and he might not be just as nice a guy as we originally thought.
At the end of Act 1, Miller creates a awkward tension as we are told that Joe along with his business partner Steve Deever were charged for defect cylinder heads and were put on trial. Joe Keller’s true colours are shown when the arrival of George Deever, Steve Deevers son comes to Joe’s house. “ There are certain men in the world who rather see everybody hung before they’ll take the blame. You understand me George? ” The arrival of George at Joe’s house was not for the best intentions, George came to argue to Joe that it was actually Joe’s fault and Joe should be in jail instead of Steve. In this quote Joe is trying to manipulate him and he finally makes George believe that Joe is innocent. Joe also just describes himself to George but makes it out to be his father’s fault.
Here it is very vibrant that Joe is not just a really nice guy, he also has a bad and secret side to him. To conclude, ‘ All My Sons’ by Arthur Miller is a very fascinating and complex play. It deals with our attitudes towards the main character – Joe Keller – changing throughout and going from one thought of him to the exact opposite. Personally, I think that ‘ All My Sons’ is a very good play and handles this issue with ease.