29 May 2016
All My Sons Research Paper
We live a life full of contradiction. On one hand, one of our greatest responsibilities is towards our family. Parents, when bringing children into the world, must do everything in their power to protect them and keep them safe, especially from outside influences. At the same time, we thrive when society thrives. Therefore, we all have a social responsibility that we must fulfill. A question is raised, however, when faced with a situation where fulfilling our obligation to society would mean letting down our family - which takes precedence? In Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons”, we read of a man who allows his commitment to family and personal life cloud his judgment as he makes a decision that has a dire effect on society, for his family’s sake. In this play, we learn that sometimes, a decision that may seem favorable at the time of its making can end up producing an unimaginable outcome.
Joe Keller seems to be living the good life. He has done well for himself; a self-made man with a thriving business and a wife who wants for nothing. He “is a ‘man among men,’ because he has ‘made it’ in this society, and that, to many, is cause for respect and admiration” (Abbotson 61). Yet, beneath this thin layer of happiness lies a thick layer of deception, sadness and denial. The truth is, this life of contentment came as a result of Keller passing off faulty machinery as functional; an action that led to the death of twenty-one war pilots. Their pilot son is missing, yet Keller’s wife cannot accept his death because that would mean Keller killed him, and a father does not kill his own son. So, they go on living the charade that everything is just perfect. The reality is too hard to face.
One wonders how Keller can go on leading his life as if nothing happened; even going so far as to allow a man to be imprisoned in his place. The fact is, up until his last moment, Keller truly believes that his actions are justified. This is because Keller only feels responsible towards his business and his family, and not to society as a whole: “Keller’s regard for his sons is undeniable, and his belief in the sanctity of fatherhood is clear as he cries, “A father is a father” (136), and in this cry affirms his belief that blood should always be put before outside concerns” (Abbotson 61). When Keller is faced with the defective equipment, he doesn’t think about what would happen if they were to be installed in airplanes and how that might affect those flying the airplanes; rather he thinks only of himself: “I’m in business, a man is in business; a hundred and twenty cracked, you’re out of business; you got a process, the process don’t work you’re out of business…they close you up, they tear up your contracts…” He knows that if he admits defeat, they will not hesitate to give the business to someone else. “Keller has been taught that it is the winner who continues to play the game, and society can turn a blind eye...