Arthur Miller wrote All My Sons after his first play The Man Who Had All the Luck had been a complete failure on Broadway lasting only four performances. Miller wrote All My Sons as a final attempt at writing a commercially successful play - if the play failed to find an audience Miller had vowed to "find some other line of work."
All My Sons is based upon a true story, whichArthur Miller's then mother-in-law pointed out in an Ohio newspaper. The story described how a woman informed on her father who had sold faulty parts to the U.S. military during World War II.
Henrik Ibsen's influence on Miller is evidenced from the Ibsen play The Wild Duck, where Miller took the idea of two partners in a business where one is forced to take moral and legal responsibility forthe other. This is mirrored in All My Sons. He also borrowed the idea of a character’s idealism being the source of a problem.
The criticism of the American Dream, which lies at the heart of All My Sons, was one reason why Arthur Miller was called to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the 1950s, when America was gripped by anti-communist hysteria. Miller sent acopy of the play to Elia Kazan who directed the original stage version of All My Sons. Kazan was a former member of the Communist Party who shared Miller's left-wing views. However, their relationship was destroyed when Kazan gave names of suspected Communists to the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare.
Joe Keller - Joe, 60, was exonerated after beingcharged with shipping damaged airplane cylinder heads out of his factory during WWII, inadvertently causing the deaths of 21 pilots. For three and a half years he has placed the blame on his partner and former neighbor, Steve Deever. When the truth comes out, Joe justifies his actions by claiming that he did it for his family. At the end of the play he kills himself in a sad attempt to rid hisfamily of the problems he has caused them and perhaps also to stop Kate from hating him.
Kate Keller (Mother) - Kate knows that Joe is guilty but lives in denial while mourning for her elder son Larry, who has been MIA for three years. She refuses to believe that Larry is dead and maintains that Ann Deever - who returns for a visit at the request of Larry's brother Chris - is still "Larry's girl"and also believes that he is coming back.
Chris Keller – Chris, 32, returned home from World War II two years before the play begins, disturbed by the realization that the world was continuing as if nothing had happened. He has summoned Ann Deever to the Keller house in order to ask her hand in marriage, but their obstacle becomes Kate's unreasonable conviction that Larry will someday return.Chris's idolization of his father results in his devastation when he finds out the truth about what Joe did.
Ann Deever - Ann, 26, arrives at the Keller home having shunned their 'guilty' father since his imprisonment. Throughout the play, Ann is often referred to as pretty, beautiful, and intelligent-looking. She had a relationship with Larry Keller before his disappearance, and has since movedon because she knows the truth of his fate. She hopes that the Kellers will consent to her marriage with Larry's brother, Chris, with whom she has corresponded by mail for two years. Ann soon finds out that the neighbors all believe that Joe is guilty, and eventually finds out the truth after a visit from her older brother George. Ann is the knowledge-bearer in the play: finally, unable to convinceKate that Larry is gone forever, Ann reveals a letter from Larry stating his intention to commit suicide having heard of his father’s imprisonment.
George Deever – George, 31, is Ann’s older brother: a successful New York lawyer and WWII veteran, and a childhood friend of Chris. He initially believed in his father’s guilt, but upon visiting Steve in jail, realizes his innocence and becomes...