All My Sons Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What is the function of the newspaper in the first act of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons?

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Much of the opening dialogue in Act I of Arthur Miller’s tragedy All My Sons involves the newspaper Joe Keller is perusing as the play opens. There must be some meaning to the newspaper, but it is by no means immediately obvious. Miller was normally pretty meticulous with respect to his stage directions and character and setting descriptions, yet the newspaper is just sort of a prop. As we read further into this opening act, however, we begin to see Joe’s trepidation with respect to the news, as opposed to, say, the “want ads,” which he reads closely, explaining that he likes to see what people want to buy. Joe, and his neighbors Jim Bayliss and Frank Lubey, are relaxing on a Sunday afternoon while discussing, among myriad topics, the felled tree in Joe’s backyard—a tree that had been planted as a memorial to Joe and Kate’s oldest son, Larry, a fighter pilot whose plane crashed during the war and whose remains were apparently never found, thereby allowing Kate the slimmest of...

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