The end of Chris and Keller’s discussion in Act I, in which Chris tells Joe that he would be willing to leave the business in order to have a “regular life”, is a very significant moment, not only in Act I, but in the whole play as well. Miller also uses many different effects to make the passage seem suggestive to the audience, whether it be simply through dialogue or even hidden in the stage directions. It is important, as it marks the beginning of the father-son relationship between Chris and Keller, a theme upon which most of the audience’s understanding of the play is based. Miller also uses this discussion to reveal his characters’ personalities and their ideals and values, especially Chris.
Chris’ confrontation with Keller on pages 14-16 is the first scene in which the audience begin to notice some of his most important characteristics, despite his entry having occurred a few pages beforehand. The most significant one is his quest for “a regular life”. This relates back to the American Dream, an ideal which thrived greatly in the post-war era, and resulted in many thousands of immigrants from all over the world. However, this “perfect life”, as it is made to look like by American propaganda, is essentially a lie in this play, as Keller has lied about what is effectively murder in order to achieve it. Chris wants everything to be normal and wholesome with Anne, and would even go someplace else in order to fulfill this, seeing as it doesn’t seem to be working out where he is, with the family and its (mostly Keller’s) notoriety forming a burden on his social life. Miller makes it seem as though Chris’ perceptions have altered somewhat, the cause of which is uncertain, although it is probably due to WWII. Chris gives us the impression that he despises the fact that everyone, including his father, is out to make the highest possible profit without any consideration for anyone else. He would like to leave behind this sense of belonging to his family (having...
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