Major Themes in All My Sons

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The play All My Sons, written by Arthur Miller, contains many strong themes. The focus of the play, however, is the inescapable past, denial and blame amongst characters. The recent events of the small American town in which the Keller family lives drive the play. Not until after the tragic death of a loved one do the main characters come to realize what is most important in life; loyalty to family, friends and society as a whole.

All My Sons is a play about the past. Many characters are dealing with the effects of keeping secrets. Joe Keller, especially, is having a hard time accepting that his best friend was put in jail for a crime that Keller himself committed. He believes that the best way to deal with something from your past weighing you down is to keep pushing it aside. Joe does a very good job of this until he realizes that his selfish mistake is ultimately what took his son's life. Like always, the past finally became inescapable and caught up with Joe. After reading his son's suicide note, Joe says, “Then what is this if it isn't telling me? Sure, he was my son. But I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were, I guess they were...” (83). Just as the past is unavoidable, so are the consequences. Joe's tragic death was his punishment for the major tragedy he caused.

Denial is another one of the main themes of the play. Joe Keller has kept his secret and been lying to everyone for so long, he has also convinced himself that is is innocent. Even though his son, Chris, has some idea that his father may be guilty, he is able to push aside the thought of it just as easily as Joe. The only person who is able to accept the fact that Joe is responsible for the death of twenty-one pilots is his wife, Kate. She cannot, however, come to the realization that her son is dead. Kate explains her attachment to Larry when she says, “Because certain things have to be, and certain things can never be. Like the sun has to rise, it has to be. That's why...
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