Joe seems like the traditional, amiable 1940s father figure. Throughout the play, Joe presents himself as a man who deeply loves his family, but also has great pride in his business. Joe Keller has been running a successful factory for decades. During World War II, his business partner and neighbor, Steve Deever noticed the faulty parts first. Joe decided to send the parts through because he was afraid that admitting the company's mistake would destroy his business and his family's financial stability. By the play's end, the audience discovers the dark secret he has been concealing: Joe allowed the sale of faulty airplane parts to be shipped to the frontline, resulting in the death of twenty-one pilots. After the cause of the deaths was discovered, both Steve and Joe were arrested. Claiming his innocence, Joe was exonerated and released and the entire blame shifts to Steve who remains in jail. Like many other characters within the play, Joe is capable of living in denial. It is not until the play's conclusion that he ultimately faces his own guilty conscience - and then he chooses to destroy himself rather than deal with the consequences of his actions.
Larry Keller: The audience does not learn too many details about Larry; the character dies during the war, and the audience never meets him - no flashbacks, no dream sequences. However, we do hear his final letter to his girlfriend. In the letter, he reveals his feeling of disgust and disappointment towards his father. The content and tone of the letter suggest that perhaps Larry's death was due to combat. Perhaps life was no longer worth living, because of the shame and anger he felt.
A devoted mother, Kate still holds on to the possibility that her son is alive. She believes that one day they will receive word that Larry was only wounded, perhaps in a coma, unidentified. Basically, she is waiting for a miracle to arrive. But there's something else about her...
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