In "All my Sons", what is Kate's attitude towards her missing son?

Expert Answers
ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kate's attitude towards her son is sort of the "elephant in the room" for the rest of the characters. She simply refuses to believe that her son, Larry,was killed in a plane crash three years earlier in the war. She still hangs on the the illusion that he will return one day. Her refusal to acknowledge his death goes beyond the normal reactions of grief. She refuses to ignore signs that she must let go. She has a dream of Larry's death that occurs at the same time the apple tree, which was a memorial to Larry, is blown down in a storm. Ann, Larry's former girlfriend, has returned and now wants to marry her younger son, Chris. She says she will "kill herself" if Chris marries Ann because Larry is still alive. Although the rest of her family cannot understand Kate's unwillingness to let go of her son, the illusions are perfectly logical to Kate. To acknowledge that Larry is dead would be to also acknowledge that her husband sent defective airplane engine parts to the army and that might make her husband responsible for her son's death. As she says, "“God does not let a son be killed by his father.” Although her beliefs are irrational to others, they are the only way she has of dealing with both her husband's crime and the loss of her son.