Joe Keller had a habit of shifting the blame for things he did and also for not taking responsibility for his actions. He makes up excuses to justify what he did such as by saying it was for his family and he had the right intensions. Joe, in the earlier stages of the play, sticks with his original story about not being at the factory on the days that the faulty parts were shipped out and had nothing to do with the making of the decision. “He hasn’t been laid up in fifteen years.” Keller then quickly replies “except my flu during the war.”
Even Kate cannot remember this but then she realises and tries to justify herself by asking George “do you remember every time you were sick?” However George, at this point, had already realised that Joe’s story was not quite right. Joe describes Steve to us as being a “little man” but he tries to get Ann and George on his side by offering to have Steve as a business partner. Joe also changes his story and tries another way of getting his family on his side, he says that he did it all for Chris and to make up a business for him, however we find out that Larry was really the favourable son.
Joe Keller, throughout most of the play, did not take responsibility for his actions, however toward the end of the play he does finally realise and admit his responsibility for others. This builds up when Chris and Joe are arguing and Joe finally admits although not exactly saying so that he thought the planes would crash, “I was afraid maybe-.” Keller could have stopped them using them but “it was too late.” Joe still however still tries to make out that it was not totally his fault until the climax of the story right at the end of the play, “but I think to him they were all my sons.” This is a vital part in the play just after they had heard Larry’s letter and when Keller finally understands what responsibility he had for the soldiers who were fighting to protect his country not just his family.
Arthur Miller uses specific stage directions throughout “All My Sons” which maybe other playwrights would’ve let the actor decide on how to act and how to react to the certain parts of the script. However during the intense scenes of this play it is vital to know exactly how an actor should deliver their lines, as in “All My Sons” the main characters change their personalities towards the end of the play, such as Joe Keller. He starts the play as being a psychologically strong man who would not back down from an argument, however towards the end of the play there is a difference in his character. “KELLER [with the beginning of plea in his voice]: He never flew a P-40 -.”
This adds power to the scene also the fact that during this scene Miller builds up tension by having the characters keep their voices down, “CHRIS [quietly, incredibly]: How could you do that? How?” This makes the scene more tense than if they have had raised their voices and shouting, as it would give the audience the impression that they are more serious and are not just blurting things out at the spare of the moment as of with shouting.
Arthur Miller also has a tendency of building up tension and then breaking it suddenly using one of the minor characters. Such as when just after Kate slips out about Joe having not been ill in fifteen years George asks “what happened that day Joe?” “Frank enters briskly” Miller uses this technique many times in the play and is a good way of making the reader want to read on because the plot unfolds very slowly. Arthur Miller has definitely portrayed his interest in moral responsibility in this play as it is obviously the main theme and it occurs very often all throughout it. He clearly had an opinion he wanted to get through by using this play and the play encourages the audience to think about the idea of moral responsibility and to make their own opinion on the subject.