In All My Sons, why does Sue Bayliss hate the Kellers?

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It might be a bit of a stretch to conclude that Sue Bayliss, a former nurse now married to an idealistic physician, “hates” the Keller family, her neighbors in Arthur Miller’s play All My Sons. If “hate” is too strong a word, however, there is no doubt that she harbors a certain distaste for the Kellers. And, Sue Bayliss is correct in her suggestions that the Keller family harbors a dark secret that taints her neighbors’ otherwise quasi-idyllic life. The Keller family, after all, has profited from a war that killed millions, albeit at the cost of their older son, Larry, whose death was attributable to Joe Keller’s malfeasance. As importantly, Joe survived the fate that befell his partner, Steve Deever, who rots in prison and whose daughter remains ensconced in the Keller family’s world. Sue is sufficiently perceptive to believe the worst about the Kellers. Additionally, Sue is driven by financial considerations and resents Joe Keller’s other son, Chris’s influence on her husband, the doctor. A hint of this aspect of Sue’s behavior is provided in a seemingly innocuous exchange early in Miller’s play when Sue berates Jim Bayliss for his weariness of making house calls to barely-ill patients, one of whom, a woman, is waiting for a visit from the doctor:

Sue: Don't sniff around me. (pointing to their house) And give her a nasty answer. I can smell the perfume over the phone.

Jim: What's the matter with her now?

Sue: I don't know dear. She sounds like she's in terrible pain. Unless her mouth is full of candy.

Jim: Why don't you just tell her to lay down?

Sue: She enjoys it more when you tell her to lay down. And when are you going to see Mr. Hubbard?

Jim: My dear, Mr. Hubbard is not sick, and I have better things to do than to sit there and hold his hand.

Sue: It seems to me that for ten dollars you could hold his hand.

Sue is frustrated by Chris Keller’s influence on her husband’s...

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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lolo5000 | Student

sue hates the kellers because she feels that they are more superior than her family because jim always wants to do any thing for them, she also feels like a bum because all the neighbors treat them as saints but in reality they are not.

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