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‘All My Sons’ IGCE Level Case Study

Chris Barcock | Monday November 11, 2019


Joe Keller, an engineer of working class background, finally admits to conspiring with his partner, Steve Deever to supplying cracked and lethal cylinder heads to the US Army Air Force. He has previously allowed Steve to take the blame and the prison sentence for this crime which directly resulted in the deaths of 21 pilots. 'So Joe told him.... on the phone he told  (Steve) to weld, to cover up the cracks in any way he could and ship them out.'

His wife, Kate, conspires in this guilty secret because she cannot believe that their elder son, Larry, was one of the 21 and fervently but wrongly convinces herself he is alive and will return home.

Ann is George's sister and Steve Deever's daughter. She was Larry's girlfriend but, acknowledging his death, as Kate cannot, she has returned to her hometown to marry Chris, the Keller's younger son. Chris is persuaded both by Steve's son George and Ann that Joe is guilty. When challenged Joe lies clumsily and palpably about the time and circumstances of the fraud.

At the climax of the play Joe comes to realise that not only Larry but also the 21 dead pilots were 'all my sons'. The unbearable recognition of his essential selfishness and failure to acknowledge his social and professional responsibilites leads to his suicide. He has striven to uphold his reputation as a man of decency and has been utterly exposed.

The growing anticipation of this revelatory moment is what drives the play's dramatic tension, irony and plot. It is underpinned by the equally tense events which culminate in the announcement to Kate that Chris and Ann will marry.

Printable and Downloadable Notes

  1. All My Sons Composition
  2. All My Sons Setting and Context
  3. All My Sons American Dream
  4. All My Sons Staging
  5. All My Sons Characters
  6. All My Sons Conflict

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