What did we learn about Annie’s father in All My Sons?

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Annie’s father was Joe Keller’s business partner. Annie blames him for his actions during the war when he knowingly shipped defective airplane parts that were used to build military airplanes and fighter planes that soldiers used in combat. As a result of his actions, many young men died in the...

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Annie’s father was Joe Keller’s business partner. Annie blames him for his actions during the war when he knowingly shipped defective airplane parts that were used to build military airplanes and fighter planes that soldiers used in combat. As a result of his actions, many young men died in the war.

The young men who died as a result of the faulty parts might have survived their missions, and ultimately survived the war, if they had had access to equipment that worked properly. Annie’s father was sent to prison for his actions. Early in the play, Kate, Joe, and Frank try to defend Annie’s father. Kate (or Mother) tells Annie that her father is a “decent man.”

Annie is surprised at Kate's forgiveness of her father. In fact, she is very hostile toward him. She tells the Kellers that when he went to prison initially, she visited him every visiting day. She cried constantly about his being incarcerated until the Keller family received news of Larry’s death. That changed Annie’s view of her father, as she blamed him for his role in Larry’s death.

It is true that the specific parts that Annie’s father (and Joe) shipped might not have been responsible for Larry’s death, but it does not matter. The possibility exists that they were responsible. In other words, the crime that Annie’s father (and Joe) committed was so horrific and so far-reaching, that it is reasonable to believe their actions impacted Larry and other soldiers whom Annie and the Kellers knew and loved.

Annie says,

Father or no father, there's only one way to look at him. He knowingly shipped out parts what would crash an airplane. And how do you know Larry wasn't one of them?

This is a crucial point that brings about the climax of the play. Joe Keller has not been imprisoned, but as the play evolves, he begins to realize his own part in the crime and his guilt. He recognizes that all the boys who died could have been Larry, and, by extension, they were all his sons.

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