All My Sons
by Arthur Miller
All My Sons Theme of Guilt and Blame
Pretty much everyone in All My Sons has a secret. Even as they tell jokes, drink grape juice, and dream of dancing, the characters vigilantly protect damning information that, if revealed, will destroy their lives. Part of self-protection means placing the blame elsewhere, creating diversions. You shift the blame to an old neighbor, your son, your parents. All the forced fun of suburban family get-togethers covers a well of guilt and shame that inevitably boils to the surface.
Questions About Guilt and Blame
- Why doesn't the community confront Joe Keller about his guilt?
- Do you think Kate knew about Joe's crime at the time? Do you think she encouraged him to go through with it?
- If Ann hadn't arrived on the scene, do you think Kate or Joe ever would have come clean to Chris?
Chew on This
In All My Sons, the suburban community's strong capitalist values enable Joe Keller to get away with murder.
Chris poses as an idealist to distance himself from his father and subtly deflect blame from himself.