All My Sons
All My Sons Theme of Courage
In a post-war (World War II) play like All My Sons, courage is necessarily an important theme. The characters have different pictures of what courage looks like. For Joe Keller, it's a fierce protection of his family. Joe's son Chris thinks of courage as self-sacrifice, at war and at home. For Chris's fiancée Ann, courage means perseverance: leaving the wreckage of the Keller family with the one thing she wants, a husband. The final act in the play – Joe Keller's suicide – raises a question of courage. Is his suicide a brave apology or ultimate cowardice?
Questions About Courage
- Why is Chris afraid to acknowledge his father's guilt?
- Does Larry's suicide nullify his image as a war hero?
- Joe Keller lied to protect his business and his family. Would you consider that brave?
Chew on This
In All My Sons, the women show the most clear-sightedness and courage.
Though hero in the war, Chris reveals his cowardice in the day-to-day business of living.