All My Sons Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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How does Miller present Joe Keller as both a tragic hero and a villain in All My Sons?

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In All My Sons, Miller presents Joe Keller as both a tragic hero and a villain by having Joe force Steve Deever to ship the faulty machine parts.  On the one hand, Joe may be considered a tragic hero because he is caught in the dilemma of having to support his family.  Joe believes that the success of his business is directly related to his caring for his family--he wants the business to be successful to leave a legacy for his two sons.  He is afraid that his failure to comply with the demand for machine parts will negatively impact his business.  However, on the other hand, Joe's actions paint him as a villain.  Joe knows that the machine parts are damaged, but he does not consider the potential danger that this will cause the pilots who will later fly the planes containing the faulty parts.  Joe only focuses on his immediate needs and disregards any concern for others.  After many men die, he continues to hide his secret and allows Steve to take the fall.  So, Miller paints Joe as both a tragic hero and a villain.

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