Short and Sweet Reviews // All My Sons by Arthur Miller

“There are certain men in the world who rather see everybody hung before they’ll take blame.”

― Arthur Miller, All My Sons

At what point do family and by extension money trump human lives? You may say never, we all would, but if given the choice and the assurance you would never be found out, what choice would you really make? What choice do you think society teaches us to make?

In Arthur Miller’s play All My Sons, written in 1947, we meet Joe Keller, a husband, father, and part owner of a machine shop turning out airplane parts for the US Army during WWII. His partner, Herbert Deever is convicted and sent to prison after it is found out that he knowingly sent out defective parts, resulting in the deaths of 21 pilots.

Keller escaped punishment but was he really innocent? Will him, his family, and quite possibly his community, be torn apart by the truth?

“I know you’re no worse than most men but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father.”

― Arthur Miller, All My Sons

All My Sons is actually based on a true story which makes the themes and questions presented seem all the more important. 

I have never been very good at reading plays. The format is hard to follow and the description of stages and props rather that settings are difficult for me to picture. I gave All My Sons a chance because it was so small. I figured even if I had a hard time; it still wouldn’t take a long time to get through. I wasn’t wrong.

All My Sons may be short, but it is potent. There are complex themes of love, family, money, responsibility, and the American Dream covered in just three short acts. They are introduced little by little, and throughout there is doubt everywhere about everyone motives and what the truth is. Miller makes sure not to give anything away too quickly nor too easily. He keeps you hooked to the very end.

I highly recommend it for everyone, but particularly if you are like and looking for a little practice in following and comprehending plays. It is considered a classic, winning the Drama Critics’ Award for Best New Play in 1947, twice been adapted to film, and established Arthur Miller as a leading voice in the American theater, so you know it’s good.

Check it out, let me know what you think, or send me some recommendations for similar books if you have them :)

“I don’t know why it is, but every time I reach out for something I want, I have to pull back because other people will suffer. My whole bloody life, time after time after time.”

― Arthur Miller, All My Sons


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Featured image via Wikimedia Commons



2 Replies to “Short and Sweet Reviews // All My Sons by Arthur Miller”

  1. I have to read the essay that you posted, but want to say that the accompanying photo of a flight of B-17s is quite graceful and compelling.


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