In Arthur Miller’s play, avoidance of personal responsibility is at the center of the problems that plague both the Keller and Deever families. By the end of All My Sons, the audience learns—along with numerous family members—that Joe Keller willingly allowed Steve Deever to take the full blame for his crime. Joe knew all along that his company was shipping faulty parts but pretended that Steve was responsible for decisions in which he was actually involved. Joe places the blame on the abstract concept of “the war,” and more specifically on the pressures that the military put on their civilian producers. The demand for high-speed production, he claims, made the producers cut corners such as skimping on inspections. Joe ultimately accepts that he was responsible, but cannot face the others and ends his own life.
Steve’s son, George, has become bitter and antisocial since his father was convicted and incarcerated. His certainty that Joe was responsible and lied about his role underlies his antipathy toward the entire Keller family, which he condemns as “covered in blood.” While he accepts that Larry is dead so Ann will never marry him, he also urges his sister not to marry Chris simply because he is a Keller. George does not take personal responsibility for his own problems, such as the end of his engagement to Lydia.
Rather than specifically assigning blame, Kate generally attributes fate or the stars to her ongoing belief that her son Larry is alive, despite the overwhelming evidence that he died in the war. Her irrational faith is encouraged by Frank’s astrological calculations.