What does the apple tree symbolize in All My Sons?

The apple tree in All My Sons symbolizes Larry. Its blowing over and dying foreshadows and symbolizes the elder Kellers' full acceptance of Larry's death.

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The apple tree is a symbol of Larry. The tree was planted to commemorate him. The tree's death symbolizes the way the older Kellers will finally come to fully accept Larry's death.

A high wind causes the apple tree to snap and fall over the night before the action of the play starts, leaving nothing but the stump. Throughout the play, characters comment on the fallen tree. For example, Frank, who is doing Larry's horoscope, comments that it is interesting that the tree was killed so close to Larry's birthday, August 25.

Mrs. Keller, however, seems to be the one who connects the apple tree most fully with Larry. Her words inadvertently show how the tree's fate foreshadows the way everything in the play will happen all at once, as well as the way the past will come back to haunt them all:

It's so funny ... everything decides to happen at the same time. This month is his birthday, his tree blows down, Annie comes. Everything that happened seems to be coming back.

Later, she connects the falling of the tree to Larry's suicide, again without realizing what she is doing:

The wind ... it was like the roaring of his engine. I came out here ... I must've still been half asleep. I could hear that roaring like he was going by. The tree snapped right in front of me ... and I like ... came awake.

Apple trees have a deep connection in Western thought with the fall of Adam and Eve from paradise. When Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree containing the knowledge of good and evil, their lives are forever changed. When Mr. and Mrs. Keller finally accept Larry's death and their complicity in it, they fall into a new knowledge of good and evil that is equally life-changing for them.

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