Study Guide

All My Sons Act 2

By Arthur Miller

Act 2

  • It's the same evening, at twilight, and Chris is chopping down the rest of Larry's tree.
  • Kate comes out and asks him to watch out for Joe and her when George arrives. She also wants him to ask Ann to leave with George. Chris still avoids telling his mom about the engagement.
  • Ann comes out and has a brief exchange with Chris. She wants them to tell Kate immediately.
  • Sue emerges from the house next door. Over a glass of grape juice, she lets it all hang out for Ann. Number one, Ann should move elsewhere when she marries Chris. Number two, everyone on the block still thinks Joe is guilty.
  • Ann gets totally freaked out. She asks Chris to assure her that Joe is innocent. He does.
  • Joe comes out and after some good-old-boy ribbing, tells Ann he'd like to set George up with some of his local lawyer friends. He's trying to mend fences in light of their marriage, he says.
  • Then Joe ups the offer. He'll give Steve a job when he gets out of prison. Chris doesn't like the idea, thinks it looks bad. But Joe believes they should forgive Steve and help set him up.
  • Jim arrives. He has George in the car. He warns Chris that George is angry and vengeful, and plans to take Ann home.
  • George enters. He's described as a man of about Chris's age, but pale and tweaked out. He's wearing a dirty shirt.
  • George meets Sue, who invites him to come over and see how they changed the house he lived in. He declines. He notices everything that's changed about the block.
  • George has just been to visit his father, who's shrinking. He launches into why he came. Ann will not marry Chris, son of the man who destroyed their family.
  • Filled with regret for turning his back on his father, George tells Steve's version of the broken cylinder story. In short, over an untraceable phone call, Joe told Steve to cover up the cracks and just send them out.
  • It's not a story Ann and Chris haven't heard. They heard it in court. George says that anyone who knows Steve and Joe knows the truth – that Joe was guilty. It was only because Chris believes in Joe that George did, turning his back on his father.
  • George is trying to take Ann away. Things get really heated – then Kate comes out.
  • This makes things hard for George. He really likes Kate.
  • Kate mothers him, gives him juice, promises to feed him.
  • George has to leave on the 8:30 train. Kate insinuates that he's taking Ann with him.
  • Lydia comes out. She and George used to have a thing. He's sad that she's shacked up with Frank and has three babies now.
  • Kate says she told him so. Now she wants him to move back, get a job through Joe, and find a girl.
  • Joe enters. Some awkward small talk and then they start talking about Steve. Joe puts out the offer of a job. George doesn't think his dad will accept; he hates Joe's guts now.
  • Acting friendly, Joe brings up another instance in which Steve failed to gracefully take the blame.
  • Ann has called a cab. But Joe invites George to stay for dinner. He's just happily accepting when Kate makes a slip. She says Joe hasn't been sick in fifteen years. But the lynchpin of Joe's story was that the flu laid him up on that fateful day – which is why Steve is the only one in jail.
  • George doesn't let Kate's slip pass. He's on the attack.
  • Frank comes in with the horoscope. It implies Larry is alive.
  • This is just what Kate wants to hear. George is leaving, and Kate openly directs Ann to go with him. She even packed her bag.
  • Chris is furious. He tells George to go. Ann does too. But she exits to see him off.
  • Finally, Chris tells his mother he plans to marry Ann. She refuses to accept that. For her, Larry is alive.
  • Larry is alive, because if he's dead, his own father killed him… Now it's out.
  • Chris is totally, totally floored. His father is guilty.
  • Joe tries to explain himself. He's a man of business. What could he do? He was building a business for his sons.
  • Chris attacks him, calling him lower than an animal. He weeps.