All My Sons by Arthur Miller, Essential Revision Notes
All My Sons, Essential Revision Notes
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Table of Contents
Arthur Miller started writing All My Sons in 1945, inspired by World War II and the true-life story (told to him by his stepmom) of a woman who alerted authorities to her father's wartime wrong-doing (source: Christopher Bigsby, "Introduction to All My Sons." Penguin Classics, 2000).
The play focuses on the story of a businessman who once narrowly avoided financial ruin by shipping cracked machine parts to the military. He blames his business partner and builds an empire, but eventually his crime comes back to haunt him. The play was produced after the war, won the 1947 Tony, and beat out Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh for the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award that same year.
You might already know Miller from some of his most famous plays, like The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, or A View From the Bridge. All My Sons was one of Miller's earliest plays – and his first commercially successful one – but it already features the ideas of social responsibility that he obsessed with throughout his entire career.
Joe Keller, a successful businessman, lives comfortably with his wife, Kate, and son, Chris, in a suburban American neighbourhood. They have only one sadness in their lives – the loss of their other son, Larry, who went missing in World War II. After three years, Kate still clings to the hope that her son is alive. Chris would like her to give up that hope b...