Discussion Topic

Joe Keller's feelings towards his former partner Steve in "All My Sons."

Summary:

Joe Keller feels a complex mix of guilt, responsibility, and blame towards his former partner Steve in "All My Sons." He outwardly blames Steve for the faulty airplane parts scandal but internally struggles with his own culpability in the tragedy. This tension highlights Joe's moral conflict and the consequences of his actions on their partnership.

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How is Keller's former partner portrayed in "All My Sons"?

Steve Deever is presented in All My Sons as a patsy, a victim of the obsessive, headlong pursuit of the American Dream. What Miller is doing here is alerting us to the fact that it's often the little guy who gets chewed up and spat out by an economic system in which the bottom line takes precedence over everything else. To some extent, Joe Keller also ends up as a victim of the American Dream. But it's instructive that he only receives justice by his own hand. Steve, on the other hand, takes the legal rap for Joe's greed and negligence and ends up going to prison. Unlike his business partner, Steve hasn't been able to escape the legal consequences of his actions. Miller is presenting the unequal legal treatment meted out to Steve as a metaphor for the law's protection of bosses at the expense of their employees.

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How is Keller's former partner portrayed in "All My Sons"?

Steve Deever is Joe Keller's former partner in business.  When the play begins, he is in jail for the crime that both he and Joe were originally convicted of, shipping cracked cylinder heads to the military which resulted in the deaths of 21 pilots.

Steve and Joe were tried and both convicted, Joe went to prison, but on appeal, he lied to the court, claiming that he was not in the factory on the day that Steve made the decision to ship the cracked cylinder heads to the military in order to meet the time requirements of the military contract.

Joe Keller claimed that he was home sick with the flu that day and denied that he told Steve to weld over the cracks and ship the parts out.  So Steve is made to take the blame for the entire incident of the cracked cylinder heads.

The first real information that the reader gets about Steve Deever is when George, his son, and Anne's brother, arrives at the Keller's home to confront Joe about the fact that his father was framed for the crime and that he is wasting away in jail.

George describes his father this way:

"He's a little man.  that's what happens to suckers, you know.  it's good I went to him in time, another year there'd be nothing left but his smell." (Miller)

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In "All My Sons," what are Keller's feelings towards his old partner?

Keller feels that his old partner has always been unable to accept the blame for anything wrong he has done.  Keller also mentions that there were times he has saved his partner grief by placing the blame on someone else, even though his partner should have been the one to suffer the consequences.

Keller is setting himself up as the benefactor.  He offers his partner a job (but not a partnership) in his factory as soon as he is released from prison.  In actuality, Keller is bribing him into silence, into giving up any claims that it was Keller who was responsible.

Keller sees his partner as weak, and he is not above exploiting that weakness to protect himself. 

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In Act 2 of All My Sons, what are Joe Keller's feelings towards his old partner Steve?

In Act 2 of All My Sons, George comes to visit the Kellers after his visit to the prison to see his father Steve.  When George arrives, Joe tells him that he was always proud to have his father as a business partner and that he would be willing to give Steve a job in his company after he is released from prison.  Joe also tells George that he is welcome in the company, however, George will not be swayed by Joe's flashy words and praises.  At other points in the play, Joe criticizes Steve for being a pushover and weak, so his praise of Steve in Act 2 is obviously insincere.  Joe does whatever he can to hide his secret from his family and from others so that he can maintain his image as a strong, successful man who provides for his family.

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