All My Sons
by Arthur Miller
All My Sons Theme of Justice and Judgment
In the back-story of All My Sons, there's a massive crime – the shipment of airplane parts known to be defective. One partner in the firm ducks the blame. He's released on appeal and goes on to accumulate impressive wealth and prestige. The other partner rots in prison, and loses all support from his family. When the play begins, the children of these two partners suffer the repercussions of this gross injustice. One son has died, one son is morbidly depressed; the daughter and son who want to marry must fight through the tangles of their fathers' wrongs, judge them, and judge themselves.
Questions About Justice and Judgment
- Why do you think the judge exonerated Joe Keller and condemned Steve Deever? Is Miller using this injustice to say something about class or society? If so, what?
- Why does George give up his quest for vengeance?
- Why don't the neighbors judge Joe Keller for the crime they know he committed?
Chew on This
Kate Keller is right: Ann Deever comes seeking revenge.
The suicide of Joe Keller at the end of All My Sons does not mean "justice is done." Too many people survive who were complicit in his guilt, and yet remain unpunished.