What is the dramatic significance of Chris Keller's self-deception in All My Sons?

Quick answer:

Chris Keller’s self-deception contributes to the action of All My Sons as his steadfast belief in his father’s innocence yields to admitting Joe’s responsibility for shipping defective parts. Chris initially cannot believe his father was involved in unethical practices or allowed his partner to be blamed. Larry’s letter and Kate’s recollections about Joe’s health help change his mind. Chris withdraws his support from Joe, contributing to Joe’s decision to take his own life.

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Prior to the action in All My Sons, Chris Keller had steadfastly believed that his father, Joe Keller, had played no role in shipping defective aircraft parts. The full responsibility had been placed on Steve Deever, Joe’s partner and the father of George and Ann, who had gone to jail for his involvement in the fraud. George, in contrast, had always believed that Joe was responsible, and this conviction had contributed to a rift between the Kellers and the Deevers.

During the course of the play, Chris is shown as being torn in his conflicting loyalties to his father and to Ann, to whom he has become engaged. George regards Chris as naïve and tries to convince him that he is lying to himself. Especially with his brother, Larry, missing and presumed dead in the war, Chris clings to his idolization of his father.

As All My Sons develops, Chris is forced to confront the reality that Larry is dead rather than missing. Ann produces a letter that reveals that Larry died largely because of Joe’s unethical and illegal practices. Furthermore, Chris’s mother, Kate, inadvertently demolishes Joe’s alibi with her recollections of her husband’s perfect health. Chris has no choice but to face the fact that his father is a criminal rather than a patriot and that his negligence contributed to Larry’s death. Unable to face the shame when his crimes are exposed to his son and the world, Joe dies by suicide.

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