All My Sons by Arthur Miller | Questions and Answers

All My Sons by Arthur Miller | Questions and Answers

All My Sons Questions and Answers

  1. What type of drama is “All My Sons”?

“All My Sons” may be considered as a drama of family relationship. Though Miller appears to be arguing strongly in favour of a certain positive relationship between the individual and society but in “All My Sons”, family relations are predominant. The play deals with relations between mother and son, father and son, husband and wife, brother and sister and so on.

  1. Where does the play open? And in what setting?

The play opens at the backyard of the Keller home in American town. In the yard, there is a secluded atmosphere. The house in double-storeyed with 7 rooms, nicely painted, tight and comfortable. In the left corner, downstage, stands 4 feet high stump of a slender apple tree whose upper trunk and branches lie toppled beside it and fruits still clinging to its branches. Garden chairs and a table are scattered about. Joe Keller, nearly 60 is reading the adds column of a newspaper. Jim, his neighbour is also present there.

  1. What does Frank say about the falling of the tree and about Larry?

Frank says that the falling of the tree is a funny incident because Larry was born in August and he had been 27 this month when the tree fell down. Frank also says that he is trying to find out if Nov. 25 was Larry’s favourable day. If it is so, it would be practically impossible for him to have died on this day Frank argues that if 25th Nov. is Larry’s favourable ; certainly Larry is alive and not dead. However, Jim or Keller does not take Frank seriously.

  1. What does Chris say about Kate, the mother?

Chris says Joe that his mother was still waiting for Larry and therefore she was walking around at night. He tells that they have committed a mistake by not telling her the truth about Larry. Nobody makes her feel that Larry is no more now. All are afraid of telling her so. Three years have gone but she is still waiting for him. Keller says that all the trouble is caused by newspaper which gives the news of some boy turning up and so she is hopeful of Larry’s return.

  1. What suggestions are given by Keller to Chris about his marriage with Ann?

Chris tells Keller that he is going to ask Ann to marry him. Keller says that it’s his business to which Chris gives a negative reply. Actually Ann was to marry Larry. If Ann now weds Chris, it will declare Larry’s absence in this world. Kate will know everything but she will not grant it so easily. Finding himself helpless, Keller asks Chris to have Ann’s opinion. Chris says that Ann is the only girl whom he will marry. As wife, he can’t think of any other but Ann who was brought up very close to him. In any case, this marriage will announce Larry’s death which will be a severe blow to the mother. So, Keller advises Chris to think more deeply in this matter though Chris is not ready to do that as they have already waited for a long time.

  1. How does Kate express the terrible night?

Kate tells Chris that she has had a terrible night. She saw a dream about Larry. She saw him flying high up in the clouds. He looked so real that she could reach out and touch him. Suddenly, he started to fall and began to cry for his mammy. Hearing this cry, Kate woke up. She heard the wind as if it was the roaring of his engine. Just then, the tree snapped right in front of her. She said that it was too soon to plant a tree for him. Kate becomes too emotional and asks for aspirin tablet. Chris advises to have composure.

  1. What is Kate’s ideas about Larry’s come back?

Kate asks Keller about Ann’s arrival in their house and suspects that Chris will marry her. In a strong voice she says that Ann is yet not married because she is still waiting for Larry. She can be Chris’ at any cost. None can take her faith away. If Larry does not come back, she will kill herself. Pointing to the broken tree, she says why it broke the very night Ann arrived. There is meaning in such things. Ann slept in Larry’s room and Larry’s tree broke into several pieces, Kate is sure about Larry’s return because a man who had been missing longer than Larry, had turned up in Detroit.

  1. How does Keller recall the day of the court proceedings?

Keller recalls the day when he came home after getting exonerated. Everybody was waiting for him. None believed him to be innocent. People rumoured that he pulled a fast one getting himself exonerated. So, he left his car and walked slowly, like a beast-one who sold cracked cylinder heads to the Army Air Force. He was feeling guilty as hell that day. But he had in his pocket the court paper proving that he was innocent. The result is that once again he is a big businessman. He again became a respected person in the city.

  1. What is Ann’s view of her father, Steve?

Chris mockingly says that Ann’s father has murdered 21 pilots. Ann says that she had a different opinion about her father. She took him to be innocent but when she heard the news about Larry, she realized that her father knowingly shipped out parts that would crash an aeroplane. Perhaps, Larry was one of those ill fated pilots. Kate however says that Steve is not responsible in the case of Larry as Larry will surely return.

  1. Why is Mr. Steve Deever not a murderer according to Joe Keller?

Keller says that Mr. Deever acted foolishly. But, he can’t be called a murderer. During war, their shop became a mad house. Every half an hour the Major called for cylinder heads. The army officers were almost whipping, them on phone. The trucks were loaded with cylinder heads. All on a sudden a batch of heads came with a crack. In business, such things generally happen. It was a fine, hairline crack. The Major was pressing hard to send the heads. Ann’s father with his little intelligence covered the cracks and loaded them for supply. His intention was not bad. But, it was his mistake to supply defective cylinders. However, he can’t be called a murderer as he did not mean any harm.

  1. How does Chris express his love for Ann?

Chris says to Ann that he planned to persuade her secretly in a week, to agree to marry him, but his parents assume that they two are already engaged. Chris asks if she can guess why he asked her to come. Ann tells that she does. Chris assures her that he loves her a great deal. In his confession of love, he is very categorical. He says that he wanted to go with Ann to some unknown place where they would be brand new to each other. Ann says that she has been waiting long for this union. She did not express her intention for she wanted Chris to initiate. In an emotional moment, they kiss each other.

  1. What was Chris’ feelings after his return from war?

Chris tells Ann about his impression of war. After coming back from war, he joined his father’s business. He felt ashamed as nothing was changed. He felt wrong to be alive. He hated the business affairs. He did not like his own car, refrigerator. He did not want these things, because he felt guilty. He felt that what he had, came out of loot and mark of blood was on them. But, Ann told Chris not to feel like that. He has right to whatever he has. Rather, he should be proud of his father.

  1. What advice does Keller give Chris regarding fortune?

Keller wants Chris to make use of the fortune he had made for his sake. He wants that Chris should enjoy it without any sense of shame. Chris is overwhelmed with feeling. But Keller wants an assurance because he feels that Chris is still ashamed of his money. He says that his money is good and there is nothing wrong about it. He assures Chris that he would try to persuade the mother. Even, he suggests Chris to have a merry evening.

  1. Why is Kate afraid?

Kate asks Chris to protect the family as they are all stupid. Being asked, Kate says that the case may be reopened by Steve, because to his last day in court, Steve never gave up the idea that Keller made him commit the crime. In case, if the case is reopened, she would not survive. She also feels that Steve’s family hates them. It may be that even Ann also hates them. However, Chris is not agree with the last statement. Kate says that Chris thinks so, just because he likes all. Kate is, over all, afraid because George, Steve’s son is now a lawyer and he is coming to Keller’s house. This sudden visit made by George and Steve’s attitude make Kate afraid.

  1. How does Joe want to drive away the bitterness of Steve?

Keller asks Ann why George should knock himself out in New York with a cut-throat competition. He should come to Keller and set up with big lawyers in town. He can establish George here. He explains to Ann that as a man grows older, he wants to accomplish something. His only accomplishment is Chris. Steve will be out in 18 months. Then he will come to Ann for support in his old age. Keller wants to offer a job to Steve after he comes out of jail. He wants that Ann and George should go and tell Steve that when he gets out he has got a place waiting for him. It will take his bitterness away.

  1. How does George behave after just coming to Keller’s house?

George after reaching Keller’s house, asks Ann if she is not married yet. When Ann replies in the negative, George tells her that she is not going to marry Chris. Being asked why, he says that Chris’ father destroyed their family. When Chris tries to interfere, George asks him to remain speechless and advises Ann to go back with him. Chris and Ann, both ask him to be civil and lovable as he was in past. Now, George says that Keller has done a terrible mistake for which he can’t be forgiven. Even, he has not sent a Christmas card to them. A great injustice was done to Steve, which Ann simply can’t imagine. On the whole, George, charges Keller for his father’s present misfortune.

  1. How does George describe the incident for which Steve was convicted?

Steve came to work that day. At night, 4 men came to him and showed him the cylinder heads with defects. There was something wrong with the process. So, Steve directly went to the phone and called Joe to come to the place. But the morning passed and Joe remained absent. Steve called him again. Now, there were more than 100 defective cylinder heads. The Army was demanding badly and Steve did not have anything to ship. So, Joe told him on phone to weld, cover up the cracks if any and ship them out. Steve was afraid. He wanted Joe to come there but he was absent. Then Joe suddenly got the flu. In court, Joe simply denied the telephone call. Everybody knew that Joe was a liar but in the appeal all believed Joe and Steve was convicted for delivering the defective cylinder heads taxing the lives of 21 pilots.

  1. How does Kate make fun with George?

Kate says that Lydia is a genius and George should have married her. George is surprised to hear that Lydia is the mother of 3 babies. Kate asks Lydia if Frank has finished Larry’s horoscope. Lydia goes in. Kate reprimands George saying that he committed a mistake by not marrying Lydia. While he was getting mad about fascism, Frank married her. George humorously says that Frank won the battle.

  1. What advice is given to George by Kate?

Kate advises George to stop being a philosopher and look after himself. He should take the suggestion of Joe and come back here. Joe will help him in setting and she will find a suitable girl for him. He should put a smile on his gloomy face. George is surprised to hear this. Kate reminds George of Mr. Marcy’s daughter who has a beauty mark on her chin. Chris says that the girl has two warts on her nose. Now, all burst in belly-laughter.

  1. What does Joe tells George about Steve’s blaming others?

Joe tells George that Steve never learnt how to take the blame. Now, Joe recalls an incident. When they had the shop on Flood Street in 1937, Steve left the heater burning for two days without water and would not admit that it was his fault. Keller says that it is one example out of many. In another case, he gave Frank the money to invest in oil stock but the stock went down and Steve blamed Frank for that. So, there are certain people in this world who rather see everybody hung before they will take blame.

  1. What does Frank say about Larry?

Frank comes to Joe’s house with Larry’s horoscope in his hand. Chris chides him for filling up Kate’s mind with undesired superstitions. Frank tells that there is a greater power than human beings. He tells emphatically that somewhere in this world, Larry is alive. Chris says that it is insane to think like that. Frank argues that Larry could not have died on 25th Nov. because it was his favourable day. It was a good day when everything good was shining on him. The odds are a million to one that a man would not die on his favourable day. In fact, he increases the hope of Larry’s being alive in Kate’s mind.

  1. What information did Joe give his son on being asked by Chris to relate it?

When Chris presses him endlessly to tell the truth, Joe is almost broken and says to Chris that he is merely a boy and he does not understand the intricacies of business. He is on the other hand, a man of business. In it, if the process breaks or fails, the contracts are torn. 120 cracked cylinder heads mean a heavy loss in business. If the stuff is not good, the business is closed. If takes a long time to set up a business but in 5 minutes it can be shattered. He never dreamt of installing defective cylinders. He thought of stopping the pilots before they took off. But, somehow, it was too late and 21 pilots went down. Joe says that he did it for the sake of Chris. It was a chance and he took it for his son. At the age of 61, one cannot get another chance.

  1. What consolation is given by Jim to Kate?

Jim asks Kate about what happened. Kate says that after a heated argument with his father, Chris has driven away somewhere. Jim soothes Kate that she should not worry because Chris would come back soon. The private dissensions do not last long. The compromise is always made. Jim feels that Frank is right in his opinion that every person has a star. It is the star of one’s honesty. A person spends his life groping for it, but once it is out, it never lights again. Jim says that perhaps Chris has not gone very far. Probably, he wanted to be alone to watch his star go out. Chris is a good son. He will certainly come back.

  1. What suggestions do Kate give Joe for compromise with Chris, their son?

When Keller asks Kate what he should do for a compromise with his son, she suggests that when Chris comes back, he should make it clear that he committed a terrible crime. Keller should tell Chris that he is willing to go to prison. By saying so, he can make Chris realise that his father is penitent and then Chris will surely forgive him. But, Keller wants to know why he is going to be forgiven. He has done nothing wrong. He only earned money for Kate and Chris. He worked hard for the family, Kate however does not agree with Joe on the ground that there is something bigger than the family

  1. How does Joe Keller feel for Larry?

Kate tells Joe that he has broken the heart of Chris. Hearing this, Keller is so disheartened that he now feels the loss of Larry. He says that Larry would not have acted like Chris. Larry made out the ways of the world. But, Chris is bothered about everything. With a heavy heart, Keller almost weeps for the loss of his son Larrry Very desperately, he says to Kate that it is for her and for Chris that he lived and nothing

  1. What request does Ann make to Kate?

Ann asks Kate to do her a favour. According to her, Kate has made Chris feel guilty with Ann. She has crippled him in front of her knowingly or unknowingly. Ann wants that Kate should tell Chris that Larry is dead and she knows it. Ann tells her that she is not going out of here alone. She can’t live that way. So, she wants Kate to set Chris free. And, then Ann promises, everything will come to an end. Ann and Chris will go away and that will be all.

  1. How does Ann prove Larry’s death?

Ann confidently declares that Larry is dead. He crashed off the coast of China on 25th Nov. His engine did not fail him, but he died. Kate asks her how did he die. Ann replies that she is cent percent sure about Larry’s death. Now, she looks at Chris’s face. Kate gets emotional. Ann asks Joe to go inside. When he goes into the house, she shows a letter to Kate. A long low moan comes from Kate’s throat as she reads the letter. She has come to know the reality that Larry is dead. Kate is totally broken now, being sure of her elder son’s unfortunate death.

  1. What does Chris say to Kate and Ann after coming back from driving?

Coming back from driving, Chris tells his mother that he is going away. He hopes to get a place in Cleveland. He is going away for good. He says to Ann that he was made yellow in this house because he suspected his father. If he knew it previously what he knows now, Joe would be in the District Attorney’s Office by this time and he would have brought him there. He says that if he were human, he could have jailed his father. He has become practical now. He even hates himself. For his reason, he wants to leave his house for ever. Ann comes forward to go with him. But, Chris denies this. Ann even promises not to do anything against Joe. Chris is a little bit relented at this.

  1. How does Chris now look at the world?

Chris has developed such a great hatred for the world and particularly for his house that he calls it the land of me big dogs. Here, man does not love a man. Man eats a man. This time a man has killed a few people. The world is that way. This world is a zoo. This is how, Chris holds a negative outlook for the outside world and about his own house also

  1. How does Joe Keller communicate with his son Chris at the end of the drama?

Joe wants to talk with Chris but Chris says that he has nothing to say. Chris says to Joe that by speaking with him, Joe will hurt him. Joe asks Chris if too much money bothers him. Chris answers in the affirmative. Keller asks his son to throw away it, and burn it if it is dirty. Keller says that he is now a dead, old man having nothing. Keller asks if Chris wants him to go to jail. If so, he should say so. Perhaps, Chris is not able to say so as jail is not a suitable place for Keller which Chris knows. During war, all worked for money. If Keller is to go to jail, half the country will have to go there. Then Keller asks, why he is bad.

  1. What is the significance of the apple tree in the drama, “All My sons”?

The significance of the apple tree in “All My Sons” is manifold. It is associated with the life of Larry as Kate often times speaks of the apple tree in context of Larry. In the corpus of the drama, we hear, it is Larry’s tree. The tree broke into pieces that night when Ann came to Keller’s house. As if there is also some indication. It was Larry’s 27th birthday when the tree fell down. So, here from, we can gather one idea undoubtedly-that is, it is a symbol of Larry’s life and death. Larry was alive, the tree was alright. Larry is dead, the tree is no more. This idea is strengthened because the tree fell down just after the horrible dream in which Kate saw Larry falling from the sky with the words ‘mammy’.

  1. What is indicated by Keller’s shooting himself ? Or “A man cannot be a Jesus in this world” Explain

The modern world is a practical cum materialistic world. Here, all have to work this or that forcibly under pressure. Maximum people look for his own needs. Joe Keller was also no exception. By nature, he was no bad man. To him, his family was the last word. So, he forgot about those 21 unlucky pilots who were dead for him though indirectly. To be Jesus is nothing but foolishness in this world as truthfulness will give us nothing. Without money, power; a man can’t expect his rights from this world dominated by negative qualities. That’s why, Joe did not admit his fault to the Govt. also. However, he earned money for his family. But, his own son, Chris accused him for this criminal deed. He found no alternative but to shoot himself to be guiltless. So, Joe Keller’s killing himself signifies that it is the materialistic society that by pressure guided Keller to the making of a choice that is anti-social. But, ultimately Joe found nothing but suicide as a means to free himself from all the accusations.

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