In All My Sons, was Joe Keller a coward for commiting suicide instead of turning himself in?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I suppose this is a matter of interpretation; however, I do not think that Joe Keller committed suicide at the end of All My Sons because he was afraid of turning himself in to the authorities.  Joe wants to be a strong leader for his family, and this is what largely motivates him to break the law in the first place.  He wants to leave behind the business to his sons as a legacy and he fears that not complying with the government's demand for machine parts will put the business at risk.  When problems arise, he blames the incident on Deever to avoid looking bad to his family.  After his lies are exposed, Joe cannot bear to face Chris and he must reckon with the fact that he is indirectly responsible for the death of his other son Larry.  The authorities do not scare Joe--appearing weak and guilty in front of his family does.