ALL MY SONS THEME NOTES
DESCRIPTION OF THE THEME
The American Dream and money play a massive part in the play and are both key themes throughout the play. Joe Keller’s obsession with this American Dream drives him to his death. Their persistence on having the classic American household creates tension and a sense of false reality. The classic family business that creates a sustainable income through the hard work that Keller put in, and is meant to be carried down to the son creates the sense of a happy family at the beginning of the play although changes to a obsession and guilt trap later on. Chris on the other hand, wants anything but the American Dream to be his reality, he wants to live his own life. This theme is portrayed through Mostly Kate and Joe Keller and the symbols in the play. The cigars, the trash and the family shop sign show how important this dream is to Keller. The American dream also shows how different generations are able to change how a country think and what they want out of life.
Major: Joe Keller- Because of his lack of education, he became a successful businessman from his hard work, not from intelligence. He strongly believes that having money and success is what gains his respect from others and ultimately this is what drives him to his death at the end of the novel. He is too focused on his goal of success and the American Dream that he forgets about humanity and social responsibility. The business was the only thing that he had, and because of his lack of education, he was willing to sacrifice anything to keep the business going. He wants his son to inherit the business and is very manipulative when he blames his son for his crime. None of his actions were out of love and affection, he was driven by his obsession with the American dream and how he would be perceived by others.
Kate Keller- Kate was just like her husband Joe. Her lack of education also makes her ignorant to the seriousness of his crime.
Links: to the recurring theme of wealth and money. Chris thinks this is the only way to make ann happy, we see the influence of money and the chris thoughts toward it- it can make you happy, ‘ashamed of the money’ ‘money is repeted again, and is central to the play.’ashamed’ shows the idea of tainted money, the money made from profiteering which again is made form war,linking to the money having blood on it. Joe says this to chris as it is ironic when in fact the money is tainted, and at the end of the play we see chris is in fact ashamed not only of the money but of his father, ‘money-money-money-money-money’ repetead for emphasis and the reason for joes action yet again made very clearly. PERSONAL RESPONSE Joe Keller’s obsessive ambition to live the American Dream leads to him prioritizing his wealth over humanity. From this desire for money stems conflict between him and his son and eventually results in the destruction of his family, due to differing generational outlooks on money. His motivation to commit such a selfish crime was a result of him attempting to sustain this dream and a post-war American audience would understand and relate to his reasoning. Though, we see the inhumanity within his crime, a modern audience also experiences this strong desire to be more than just financially stable. With cash ruling everything around us, it is easy to become corrupted by this desire for wealth. Chris Keller never desired money like his father did, but this is likely to be because he never had to work for it, therefore he never really understood it’s value. Chris was born into the American Dream even though it was not his dream. Money to Chris was simply an object, not a ruling force in his life. This created his idealistic beliefs and allowed him to see the world for more than just it 's monetary value, but coming from a wealthy background also resulted in numerous moral complications for Chris. From this, the audience has learnt how easily wealth can change one’s morals and the more money we come from, the more problems we see.