In the play “All My Sons”, by Arthur Miller, the word ‘father’ means the personification of goodness and infallibility to Chris Keller. There was a strong relationship between Chris and his father, Joe. Everything Joe had done in his life was for Chris. His entire factory was intended for Chris once he retired. Throughout the play there was question of Joe’s innocence in the death of 21 pilots, who were flying planes that had parts from Joe’s factory.
Chris strongly believed that his father played no part in those deaths and that the blame lay solely on Joe’s partner, Herbert Deever. At the end of the play, Chris’ realization that his father was guilty brings about anger and then remorse, when Joe commits suicide due to his guilty conscience. Joe has done everything in his life for his sons.
Once his elder son Larry died in the war, Joe devoted his life to his younger son Chris. “KELLER. …Because what the hell did I work for? That’s only for you, Chris, the whole shootin’-match is for you Miller, 15.” Many businesses are handed down from generation to generation. Joe felt his role in life was to build a business that his son could take over once he got too old to run it. His love and hope for Chris blinded Joe’s ability to make a thoughtful and rational decision regarding faulty parts from his factory. This resulted in the death of the pilots’. Joe completely disregarded the lives that his parts would be affecting because all he cared about was his son. The love that Joe displayed to his son was returned in the love and respect that Chris had for his father. “GEORGE. …But you know him. You know in your heart Joe did it. CHRIS. Lower your voice or I’ll throw you out of here Miller, 46.”
George Deever’s confrontation with Chris about his father’s guilt demonstrated Chris’ belief that his father was not guilty of any crime. He refused to believe that his father played a role in shipping the defective parts to the government. This only reinforced the idea that there was a strong father son bond between Joe and Chris.
The moral values that were instilled in Chris blocked him from believing that his father was capable of anything else but good. These values prove to be the eventual down fall of Joe. At the end of the play Chris” idealism and his moral outrage came across powerfully as he realized that his father was guilty.
The solid connection between father and son was broken. As Chris struggled to understand his father’s actions, Joe still felt he had done no wrong. “JOE. Nothing is bigger than the family. I”m his father and he”s my son.” These were poignant and sad words by Joe as it showed he still had not realized the scope of the disaster he had caused.
After reading the letter from Larry on the day of his death, the symbolic understanding of the title finally comes across in dramatic sorrow when Joe fully accepts his responsibility. He feels the only recourse is to take his own life. “CHRIS. Mother I didn’t mean to…Miller, 69.” Chris felt that because he had pressured Joe into accepting his responsibility, to the universe and the people in it, he was to blame for Joe’s suicide. This remorse demonstrated that although Chris was deeply angered and saddened by his father’s guilt, he still loved him.
Throughout the play, “All My Sons”, the theme of the family appeared on a number of levels.
Chris and Joe demonstrated their dedication and love to one another through a strong bond. Joe proved this by doing everything in life, including committing a crime, for his son, Chris. Chris showed this bond by not believing in his father’s guilt even though the truth lay at the tip of his nose. Even after the realization that his father played a role in many deaths Chris over came his anger and recognized that he still loved his father by demonstrating remorse at his father’s death. The tie between Joe and Chris Keller lay deep in the love and respect that each had for the other and proved to tough to break.