Analysis Of Joe Keller’s Character In All My Sons

Arthur Miller’s All My Sons is a story about the father-son relationship. It explores what a father will do for his son and how far he will go for his family. Joe Keller, the main character is a father that believed his greatest accomplishment was his son. Joe Keller was a true businessman and had to work with others to get to the top to build his successful business. He wants Chris Keller to love it and accept it. Joe’s life has been impacted by the loss to his son Larry Keller during WWII. His family was also affected. Joe may be considered a victim of the pity of others. Joe’s selfish actions of fraud, corruption and the death of war-heroes have shaped his life. Joe Keller is a self-absorbed man who promotes his own self-interest. He destroys the lives of others through insanity and grief.

Joe Keller’s selfishness led to the death of young soldiers as a result. Joe, along with Herbert Deever, owned and managed a mass-production factory that made parts for aircraft during wartime. The machines produced more than 100 defective engine heads one night. However, the army demanded more parts the next day, as the only available ones were cracked. Joe instructed Herbert to illegally weld over cracks and ship the parts to his army. The deficient engine parts led to the deaths of 21 pilots during World War II. Chris found out the truth from his father after three years. Joe explained to Chris that he owned a business. The process failed and he was out of business. His business partner, a neighbor, and a friend were also sent to prison for their own crimes. Joe asked Herbert what to do when the defective parts were being produced. Joe refused the call and instead told Joe over the telephone to repair the cracks, then to ship out the parts. Joe knew that a phone conversation would not suffice to indict Herbert. However, Joe told Herbert over the phone to ship the parts and to weld over the cracks. While Herbert was sentenced to years behind bars, Joe was released. Joe spent many years trying justify his actions to himself, claiming that his business was his family’s legacy and life. Joe was selfish and caused great harm to everyone around him. Joe had a self-interest that killed men and destroyed the lives of his friends. He also avoided being sentenced for criminal behavior.

Some might argue Joe Keller merits sympathy because of all the suffering and pain he endured during wartime. Joe was soon arrested for defective parts and his son Larry Keller died shortly thereafter. Joe’s daughter, Larry Keller’s, death resulted in Kate’s mental insanity. Kate tried to comprehend the reality and her grief through hopelessness and denial. He was never found. Kate believed Larry would be home and said that he would. However, she continued to believe in him. Joe was unable to shake the guilt of his son’s death due to his engine failures. He tried to remind himself that Larry had never flown a P-40 plane, which is the aircraft his parts were responsible for. Joe’s parents suffered serious hardships because of the stress of Joe not being in jail and the grief over losing one of their children. Chris was also at risk. These traumas were not Joe’s fault. The family is informed by Larry in a letter that he wrote to them about the tragic deaths of 21 young military personnel. Larry committed suicide from the grief he felt after learning about his father’s selfish murderous acts. Larry expressed his grief in a letter that read, “I can’t bear it anymore.” Joe, a self-absorbed personality who pushed his business ahead of all others, made Joe a character deserving of no sympathy.

Joe Keller’s selfishness drove him to suicide and contributed to the devastation of others. Joe Keller is unworthy to be sympathized with for this last selfish act. Joe committed suicide to avoid the shame and consequences of his actions. Larry died because Larry allowed those military personnel to die. Chris viewed Joe as an animal and not a human. Joe says to Kate: “For me, Kate, and both of you …,” (78). He then realizes that he’s lost the love, loyalty, and support of his family, and especially his sons. Joe made bad decisions that caused death, insanity and prison sentences, as well as heartbreak for his wife, friends, and sons.

All My Sons’ central figure is an egocentric man who causes great suffering to others through his selfishness and egocentric disposition. Joe Keller sees his business as his greatest achievement and his family as his greatest achievements. He doesn’t allow morals, values or morality to hinder his ability to create a legacy of success for his son Chris Keller. Joe’s narrow-minded drive for self-interest resulted in the deaths of innocent military heroes, unfair imprisonment of his business partner and the insanity and suicide of his son Larry. Joe Keller kills himself in a last display of selfishness. It adds to the family’s suffering.


  • baileywilliams

    Bailey Williams is an educational blogger and school teacher who uses her blog as a way to share her insights and knowledge with her readers. She has been teaching for over 10 years and has a deep understanding of the school system and how to help students reach their goals. Her blog is packed full of helpful information and resources, so be sure to check it out if you're looking for help with your schoolwork!