All My Sons Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What is Miller's criticism on the American dream in All My Sons?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Miller criticizes the American Dream by showing how it corrupts the soul and makes us do things we shouldn't do.

Joe Keller is the living embodiment of the American Dream. A successful businessman, he appears to have everything in life he could ever want. As well as good money and a happy family life, he has the respect of the community, which looks up to him as a pillar of society.

But there's a dark side to Joe, just as there's a dark side to the Dream to which he's devoted such unflinching allegiance. He only got to be a successful businessman, to live the American Dream, by cutting corners, knowingly shipping defective fighter jet cylinder heads to the military. In doing this, a basically decent man has corrupted his soul forever, and there's no turning back.

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price7781 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Arthur Miller is making a statement about achieving the American dream through Joe Keller, who will do anything to obtain it. Joe, a manufacturer of airplane cylinder heads, knowingly ships out defective parts to be put in airplanes pilots will fly in WWII.  His dishonesty risks the lives of American fighters.  Although he is acquitted of sending defective parts (after blaming his partner), Joe ends up committing suicide because of the guilt he feels.  Even though he says he did it for his family, sons, and the success and money the parts bring him, Joe, in essence, puts “America’s sons” in harms way. 

Arthur Miller makes a statement in All My Sons about how those with power will do anything to achieve their dreams.  The symbolic American dream is often obtained through hard work, not dishonesty, and Miller believes that those who achieve it should also protect and keep others safe.  Unfortunately, those who seek fortunes and the American dream of success often hurt those who are not as capable of achieving it.  The pilots and soldiers were fighting for the American dream of freedom, and it was Joe Keller’s duty to keep American soldiers safe.   Joe Keller’s greed put that in jeopardy. 

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