How does Miller use imagery and symbolism to characterize Larry, who never appears on stage but is so fundamental to the events and the people?
The presence of the items that remind us of Larry’s presence even though he never appears on stage. Larry’s Omni-presence in the play greatly effects Chris; especially in Act One. In the Third Act, Larry surfaces yet again through his letter. Even though he is never present, he is extremely fundamental to the actions and even the thoughts of the people. He also helps to make Joe repent his actions, even though it is the last few minutes of the play. Larry greatly affects the events that happen in All My Sons in an indirect way.
Miller uses imagery and symbolism to characterize Larry is crucial to the play even though Larry never appears on stage. The major symbol that revolves around Larry is the apple tree in the Kellers' yard. The tree was planted as a memorial to Larry after he disappeared in the war, and at the opening of the play, the characters realize that the tree has been split in half by lightening during the night. Ironically, the time is August, the month of Larry's birthday. Symbolically, the splitting of the tree foreshadows the split that will occur later between the family members as they grapple with the issue of Larry's disappearance as opposed to his death/suicide--Kate will hold her belief in Larry's disappearance for as long as she can while other members of the family come to accept that Larry is dead.
Miller also uses imagery to characerize Larry. In the letter that Larry has written and sent to Ann, he describes his experiences in the war so that Ann (and readers) can witness what he sees every day. By the end of the letter, the reader understands the horrors of war that have had such a great effect on Larry. Larry's view of war is a direct challenge to Joe Keller's decision to ship the faulty machine parts and keep it a secret, making Larry's presence crucial to the development of plot and theme.