All My Sons
by Arthur Miller
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
At the end of All My Sons, Joe Keller faces the judgment of both his sons: one accusing him from the dead and one ready to drive him to prison. He goes inside and shoots himself. What does this suicide mean? Does Joe fear prison? Is he overcome with guilt and grief? Is he paying for the death of all those pilots with his own death?
We think there's some ambiguity. Kate Keller encourages their son Chris, though he provoked his father's suicide, not to feel guilty. She encourages him to evade accountability. But passing the buck is just what Joe Keller did after selling faulty engine parts in the war. Perhaps Kate is wrong to encourage Chris to forgive himself, but it's clear she's just protecting the one family member she has left.