What overt and implied messages are in All My Sons and Little Miss Sunshine?

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Family relationships stand at the heart of both Arthur Miller's play All My Sons and the movie Little Miss Sunshine. Let's explore some of the messages from these two works that you could discuss as you construct your answer to this question.

We will look at All My Sons first. Notice the family conflicts here. There is a decided lack of ability to deal with reality, especially on the part of Kate and Joe. Kate does not want to believe that her oldest son died in the war, for if she did, that would mean she would also have to accept her husband's guilt in the death. Joe denies his involvement in the sale of faulty aircraft parts until the end of the play. When he finally admits it, he cannot handle the guilt and dies by suicide. There is certainly a message here about the need for honesty within a family and the devastation that lies can cause. The play also speaks of the need to move on in life even though that is difficult.

The movie Little Miss Sunshine is also about a quite dysfunctional family. The message here, however, centers on a journey of discovery that actually draws the family closer together. Each family member has to learn how to cope with the reality of things as they are. This is difficult in many cases. They have to accept things they would rather not think about. They have to recognize their own limitations (like Dwayne's color blindness) and each other's struggles (like Edwin's heroin addiction that eventually kills him). Yet they learn that family is more important than any of these.

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