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All My Sons

All My Sons

by Arthur Miller

Courage Theme

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

  1. Why is Chris afraid to acknowledge his father's guilt?
  2. Does Larry's suicide nullify his image as a war hero?
  3. Joe Keller lied to protect his business and his family. Would you consider that brave?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

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.

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