Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Joe Keller, a middle-aged factory owner of working-class background. He is a plain, inarticulate man with a certain peasant shrewdness. His values are simple: work and family. His purpose in life is to pass on his business to his surviving son, Chris. His moral simplicity, however, is his undoing. During World War II, he knowingly authorized the shipment of cracked cylinder heads to the Army air force; the defective parts caused the deaths of twenty-one pilots. Although imprisoned and brought to trial, he avoided conviction by shifting the blame to his hapless partner, Steve Deever. Although he is accepted by his neighbors, they do not doubt his guilt, nor did his son Larry, who, ashamed of his father’s actions, committed suicide during the war. Only his son Chris believes he is innocent. Joe is forced to face his responsibility when Larry’s former girlfriend, Ann Deever, now about to marry Chris, gives the Kellers Larry’s suicide letter. Realizing that his actions caused Larry’s death and that the twenty-one pilots are as much his sons as Larry (he refers to them as “all my sons” in his last speech), Joe shoots himself.
Kate Keller, the fiftyish wife of Joe Keller. She superstitiously clings to the hope that her son Larry, who disappeared during the war and is assumed to be dead, will return. This false hope complicates her surviving son’s plan to marry Ann Deever. To Kate,...
(The entire section is 912 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of All My Sons Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
See Ann Deever
Dr. Jim Bayliss
Jim Bayliss is a close friend of Chris Keller. He and his wife, Sue, bought the house formerly owned by Steve Deever and his family; this makes him a neighbor of the Kellers. Although Jim suspects that Joe is as guilty as his former partner is, he likes the Keller family. He even tries to protect Joe from a confrontation with George Deever.
Sue Bayliss, Jim's wife, reveals that the town knows the truth about Joe Keller, and unlike her husband, she basically dislikes the family. However, her animus is largely directed against Chris, not Joe. She believes that he knows his father is guilty and has profited from the situation. As a result, she deems him a phony, and she deeply resents his friendship with her husband.
Bert is a neighborhood boy. He plays with Joe in the beginning of the play, pretending to be a policeman. Bert's gullibility provides a comic counterpoint to the more serious gullibility of Joe's son, Chris, who believes in his father's innocence. Joe has also shown Bert the gun with which, at the end, he kills himself.
Ann is the attractive daughter of Steve Deever, Joe's former partner. She is visiting the Kellers for the first time since her boyfriend, Larry Keller, was reported missing in action. She has been invited by...
(The entire section is 1352 words.)