How is the title All My Sons justified?

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The title of the play All My Sons can be justified on the grounds that all of the pilots killed by the defective engine parts shipped by Joe Keller were his sons as much as Larry was. In other words, Joe had a responsibility to care for them, which tragically he did not discharge.

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The title of the play All My Sons is justified because Joe Keller should have thought of all the pilots who flew in planes that contained defective parts his company sold the government as his sons metaphorically. He should have put their safety and the safeguarding of their lives above...

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the loss he would have taken had he acknowledged that the airplane parts were defective. Instead, he pretended that they were fine and sold them, knowing full well that they might (and in many cases did) fail.

Because of Joe’s callous disregard for the lives of others and because he placed his profit above the safety of the young men in those planes, he was indirectly responsible for the deaths of many pilots during the war. Moreover, he was also indirectly responsible for the death of his own son Larry.

Joe acknowledges this at the end of the play when he is confronted by his family and Annie. He is facing the prospect of going to jail for his actions during the war. He realizes that Larry understood that he breached his communal and moral responsibility by putting his economic interests above the lives of others. Based on the letter Larry sent Annie, Larry essentially committed suicide.

This means that indirectly, Joe is just as responsible for Larry’s death as he is for the deaths of those other young men who relied on his plane parts to work properly when they were flying on wartime missions. Speaking of Larry at the end of the play, Joe says

Keller: (looking at letter in his hand) Then what is this if it isn't telling me? Sure, he was my son. But I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were, I guess they were...

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Thanks to Joe Keller's greed, a number of American pilots have unnecessarily lost their lives as a result of the defective engine parts he supplied to the military. To make matters worse, Joe's actions have led directly to the suicide of his son Larry, who committed suicide out of shame about finding out what his father had been up to.

All twenty-one of the pilots who died were, in effect, Joe's sons in that he had a fatherly responsibility towards them. It was his job to make sure that the machinery in their planes was safe and secure. But after greed took hold of his soul in its vice-like grip, he failed to discharge that responsibility, and he knowingly supplied the military with defective engine parts that would eventually lead to the death of all those pilots, as well as that of his own son.

The title of the play hints at the responsibility we all have towards each other. On this reading, everyone is our son, father, daughter, mother, sister, or brother. We all need to look out for each other as if we were all part of one big family. Sadly, that's not the way that Joe Keller saw things, and the consequences were tragic.

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"All" of Joe Keller's (note the similarity to killer) sons include his two biological sons, Larry and Chris, and the 21 young men who died in plane crashes in World War II due to Keller's complicity in selling faulty plane parts—cracked cylinder heads—to the armed services. Joe's friend and business associate goes to jail for the crime, but Joe is cleared, even though he is equally guilty. Meanwhile, his son Larry has been missing in action since his plane crashed (ironic) in World War II, and Chris has come back from the war a more mature person willing to take personal responsibility for his actions. He wants this father to do so as well.

Joe justifies his actions as taking care of his family. He says that as a father he had to provide. Ironically, of course, taking care of his own sons led to the death of other people's sons. The title of the play strongly implies that we carry a responsibility towards others beyond the narrow confines of our immediate biological families. If we are all brothers, especially in times of war, then we are responsible for protecting other people's sons, not just our own, by acting with fairness and integrity.

 Joe's role as a father is primary to his identity and implies acceptance of a higher level of responsibility than just any man. This is summed up in Chris's words:

I know you're no worse than other men, but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man...I saw you as my father.  

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Joe Keller, the main protagonist in Arthur Miller's All My Sons, was a manufacturer of cylinder heads for the Army air force.  Unfortunately, he knowingly shipped cracked cylinder heads to be used in planes causing the death of over 20 service men because of plane crashes.  His greed for wealth and to leave the manufacturing business to his son was thwarted by the scandal and his deceit.  Joe Keller professed to believe that family was important, especially when he wanted to leave his son, Chris, the legacy of a family business.  However, his lack of concern in shipping defective parts killed other sons of families in America.  I think "all my sons" refers to the fighting men who risked their lives during WWII.  They are America's sons, so to speak.  As soldiers, they lived and died for our freedom, and Joe Keller did not respect them.  To Keller, it was more important to provide for his family than to protect the lives of others. His selfishness was his downfall in this story, and he lost everything because he failed to protect the sons of all Americans. 

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What is the significance of the title All My Sons?

The title of All My Sons represents Joe Keller's eventual realization that he—along with everyone, for that matter—has a responsibility for the well-being of everyone in a community. Although he is a successful businessman by the time of the story's events, Joe has a dark secret from his past when he worked in manufacturing for the war. Due to his negligence while running a factory, Joe's actions led to the death of twenty-one American pilots and the conviction of his business partner. Although Joe was eventually exonerated, he holds some responsibility for these tragic and avoidable deaths, although he does not see it this way.

Joe's son Chris discovers this dark secret. He starts to view his father as culpable for the death of his brother Larry, who went missing during the war. Joe defends himself by repeating that Larry did not even fly on one of the planes with defective parts. Therefore, he is not responsible. This highlights the fact that Joe does not feel any larger responsibility for what his actions represent.

In the end, Joe comes to realize that he had a responsibility to the wider community and that he is indeed culpable for those twenty-one deaths and, tangentially, his son's as well. This is where the title gets referenced:

Sure, he was my son. But I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were, I guess they were. (3.167)

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How can I explain the title "All My Sons" and its significance to the play?

Joe Keller says that everything he has done in his life has been for his sons.  This includes the decision to ship the cracked cylinder heads that lead to the death of so many airmen.  Because Joe believes that nothing is more important than family, he has little trouble making this decision, although he does claim that he thought the heads would be discovered down the line and that he would be able to replace them with good ones with no harm to the business.

During the course of the play, pressed on by Chris' idealism, he comes to realize that the airmen who died because of his decision were not just strangers, men with no links to him; he comes to realize that they were "All My Sons," that you cannot act to favor your own sons to the harm of other sons.  The realization of what he has done to these other sons leads to his decision to commit suicide.

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How can I explain the title "All My Sons" and its significance to the play?

The conflicts in the play develop from an event that is revealed through exposition. During World War II, Joe Keller ordered his partner to conceal defects in 121 plane engines their company supplied to the Air Force during World War II. As a result, 21 fighter planes that were fitted with the defective parts crashed, killing those soldiers on board. 

The significance of the title is made clear in the play's conclusion when Keller finally faces the truth of his own character and assumes responsibility for his actions. As a result of his greed and deception, he has lost the respect of his son Chris, a young man of principle. Keller's son Larry, who was shamed beyond endurance by his father's reprehensible acts, committed suicide. In addition to these sons, however, Keller finally takes direct responsibility for "all my sons," the soldiers who died flying the planes sent into combat with his defective parts. As the enormity of his selfishness and greed overwhelms him, Keller kills himself in the play's conclusion.

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How does the title of the play, All My Sons, relate to its content?

“I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were, I guess they were.”  This is what Joe Keller says after discovering why his son, Larry, killed himself.  Larry was angry and heart-broken to think of his father shipping airplane parts that were responsible for the deaths of his fellow airmen.  Joe made the tragic choice to ship the parts because he wanted to preserve his company in order to provide for his family.  He wanted to be able to support his family in the short run and also have someone to pass on to his sons in the long run.  His statement is recognizing that ALL of humanity should be honored to the same level that he holds his biological sons.  This recognition drives Joe to also commit suicide.

Arthur Miller uses this family tragedy to make a clear statement about war - about the economics of war and the decisions made during wartime that were unethical and inhumane.  He also makes the point that one can't justify wrong decisions that impact the greater community because they are right for the individual.

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