Discussion Topic

Joe Keller's portrayal in Arthur Miller's All My Sons

Summary:

Joe Keller in Arthur Miller's All My Sons is depicted as a pragmatic businessman who prioritizes his family's well-being and financial security, even at the cost of ethical integrity. His actions during the war, selling faulty airplane parts, reveal his moral flaws, leading to tragic consequences and ultimately his downfall.

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How is Joe Keller portrayed as a father, husband, neighbor, and friend in All My Sons?

As a father, Joe Keller thinks that he is sacrificing all that he has to be a strong provider for his sons.  He keeps the family business strong so that he can pass it on to Chris and Larry once he is too old to manage it.  Joe tells Chris that he this went through his head when he ordered Steve Deever to ship the faulty machine parts--Joe did not want to risk having the business go under for failing to comply with an order.  On the other hand, one could argue that Joe is not setting a good example for his sons because he acts in an immoral fashion because he knowingly creates a deadly situation for the pilots whose planes were equipped with the faulty parts.

As a husband, Joe uses Kate as a support system.  He expects that she will keep his secret, which she does, with little regard to her loyalty.

Joe's neighbors regard him as friendly and welcoming; however, they do not really trust him.  They are happy to keep his company, but also hold him on the outskirts of their acquaintance.  Joe, on the other hand, feels that the neighbors have accepted him as "innocent" and does not understand the inner workings of the neighbors' true feelings about him.

Finally, as a friend, Joe's concerns lie only on the surface.  Steve is serving much time in prison because Joe has lied, and even though Joe has promised both Steve and his son George a job with his company, nothing can make up for the years that Steve has spent in prison on account of Joe's lies.

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In "All My Sons", how is the character Joe Keller portrayed?

Joe Keller initially seems like a regular guy, a hard-working husband and family man, who does everything he can to give his loved ones a shot at the American Dream. But the American Dream has its dark side, as numerous writers, including Arthur Miller, have shown us. And the main problem with the American Dream is that it often makes people do they things they really shouldn't do. That's what happens in the case of Joe Keller. His headlong pursuit of business success causes him to make a fateful decision that will have damaging consequences, both for himself and others. In selling faulty cylinder heads to the military, Joe has effectively sold his soul for financial gain. And that soul has become so corrupted by greed, that even when the full horrific scale of his actions has been revealed, he still refuses to face up to his responsibilities. His eventual suicide seems like the ultimate evasion rather than an acknowledgement of the immense suffering he's brought to so many others.

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In "All My Sons", how is the character Joe Keller portrayed?

Joe is presented as a man who seems good-natured and well-liked at the beginning of the play. The neighborhood children love him, his neighbors like him and he is proud of his business. However, Joe is really a rather heartless individual who ordered his partner to send defective airplane engine parts to the army and that resulted in the deaths of 21 pilots. Joe took partial blame for the crime, but blamed most of the crime on his business partner, Steve Deever. As the play continues, the truth of Joe's actions are gradually revealed and Joe finally realizes the consequences of his actions. This has a devastating effect on both Joe and his family.

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How is Joe Keller portrayed in act 1 of Arthur Miller's All My Sons and how does the playwright utilize this character?

In Act I, Joe Keller is presented as a friendly neighbor, sitting in his yard reading the newspaper. He is a concerned husband, who is worried about his wife, Kate because the memorial tree for their son Larry has fallen down during the night due to a terrible storm.

Joe is also depicted as a playful grandfatherly type; he plays with a neighborhood boy, Bert. 

Joe also defends his former partner, Steve Deever, who is in jail for crimes committed when the two were manufacturing airline parts.  Faulty parts were shipped to the army which resulted in the deaths of several pilots.

Joe Keller on all levels is depicted as honest, friendly, and sincere.  He is a loyal friend and a supportive husband. 

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