In All My Sons, Chris says: "But I'm like everybody else now, I'm practical now, you made me practical."  What does he mean?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chris says that he is practical in Act 3 of All My Sons.  At this point in the play, Chris has learned the probable truth of his father's role in the shipping of faulty machine parts that led to the deaths of more than twenty pilots in the war.  At the beginning of the Act, Chris has gone away to consider his situation.  Jim, the Kellers' next door neighbor, tells Kate that Chris will come back when he realizes the nature of human beings:

These private little revolutions always die.  The compromise is always made.  In a peculiar way.  Frank is right--every man does have a star.  The star of one's honesty.  And you spend your life groping for it, but once it's out it never lights again.  I don't think he went very far.  He probably just wanted to be alone to watch his star go out.

Before this, Chris believed that men had honor and that they honestly looked out for each other before they looked out for themselves.  Earlier in the play, Chris says that the men in his faction who died in the war only died because they were trying to save the lives of each other.  When Chris learns the role that his father played in the war, he takes on the guilt as he realizes that his father was one who acted to save himself rather than to save the lives of others.  Chris has made it back from the war and now questions whether or not he is also one of the selfish ones who only looked out for himself.  When Chris returns to the yard, he says, "I'm practical, and I spit on myself."  He decides to go away to start a new life where he can find a path to redemption.

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All My Sons

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