All My Sons
Arthur Miller is known for his dramatic plays that take a pragmatic look at the American Dream in the middle of the industrial era. All My Sons is exemplary of Miller’s work in revealing the life of Joe Keller, a hard working family man gone bad in search of the American dream of financial security for his family. Typical of Miller, Joe Keller wins the readers sympathy, though his actions are revealed as morally questionable at the very least. Even though sympathy is evoked, Arthur Miller continues to drive home the social message of the play – man is responsible for his actions and is held accountable to society by the inevitable justice found in the universe.
The plot is strong enough to stand on its own without the social commentary that Arthur Miller aptly implies. Joe Miller, a manufacturer of airplane parts, knowing sells defective parts the United States government. The parts were used in P40 planes during the recently completed Second World War. The crime that Joe Miller engaged in was deeper than the obvious federal offense. It is a crime against society and man’s responsibility to his fellow man.
The alienation that the industrial era brought upon men is witnessed in the character of Joe Miller. Through this alienation, Joe’s connectivity to society is severed and his tie to moral responsibility on behalf of mankind is weakened greatly. In All My Sons, the consequence of labor is not seen as positive but rather as disappointing and devastatingly inadequate for the modern family. The unsatisfactory result of a man’s life work alienated him from his peers and from society because of poverty and the lack of attaining the American Dream. Therefore, the reader feels pity for Joe Miller and is lead to understand why he would do such a morally reprehensible act.