All My Sons Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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In "All My Sons", how is Joe Keller presented?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Joe Keller initially seems like a regular guy, a hard-working husband and family man, who does everything he can to give his loved ones a shot at the American Dream. But the American Dream has its dark side, as numerous writers, including Arthur Miller, have shown us. And the main problem with the American Dream is that it often makes people do they things they really shouldn't do. That's what happens in the case of Joe Keller. His headlong pursuit of business success causes him to make a fateful decision that will have damaging consequences, both for himself and others. In selling faulty cylinder heads to the military, Joe has effectively sold his soul for financial gain. And that soul has become so corrupted by greed, that even when the full horrific scale of his actions has been revealed, he still refuses to face up to his responsibilities. His eventual suicide seems like the ultimate evasion rather than an acknowledgement of the immense suffering he's brought to so many others.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Joe is presented as a man who seems good-natured and well-liked at the beginning of the play. The neighborhood children love him, his neighbors like him and he is proud of his business. However, Joe is really a rather heartless individual who ordered his partner to send defective airplane engine parts to the army and that resulted in the deaths of 21 pilots. Joe took partial blame for the crime, but blamed most of the crime on his business partner, Steve Deever. As the play continues, the truth of Joe's actions are gradually revealed and Joe finally realizes the consequences of his actions. This has a devastating effect on both Joe and his family.

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