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All My Sons

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Life is full of many hard decisions that people have to take, often on the spur of the moment. Some we get right others turn horribly wrong. Joe Keller, the tragic hero of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, was no different. His whole life was dedicated to his family and their well being but all his plans were undone by one fatally flawed decision.

The audience can relate to Joe and feel sympathy for him because he was a good man who did many great things for his family and in the end paid the ultimate price. Towards the end of the play, Joe's son Chris anguishes over the fatally flawed decision made by his father, thus eliciting the sympathy of the audience. However, this is not enough to detract from the audience relating to Joe as a basically good man, who has made the hard decisions for many years and ends up a tragic hero paying for his mistake with his life.

Joe is a good man who has spent his whole life trying to live the American Dream. He has built a home and started up a business to take care of his family. He is a hardworking and considerate father to his sons, Chris and Larry and a caring and loving husband to his wife Kate. The audience knows this because early in the play, of Act 1, he says to Chris, "Because what the hell did I work for? That's only for you Chris, the whole shootin' match for you!"(Act 1, p15-16). The audience believes this because throughout the play they see no evidence of Joe indulging in any of the human weaknesses, which would squander his money. He is an easy-going man who is a good friend to everyone. The play is set in his backyard, which seems to be a perpetual open house to the neighbourhood. He is well-liked by people in his small town, as Ann says, "People like to do things for the...

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...-one other young pilots. However, there are many in the audience who like Joe would think that Chris has had things too easy and is making much ado about nothing.

It is Joe Keller for whom the audience feels the greater sympathy and respect because he was a great man, who made a fatally flawed decision, which continued to haunt him through life. He finally understood the meaning of life within family and the society in which we all live in and that is that you cannot make flawed decisions which impact others and get away with it. When Joe realises this, he is brave enough to pay the price for his mistake, and that is what makes Joe a hero in the audience's eyes. As the US folklorist & expert on mythology, Joseph Campbell, said, "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself ." There was nothing bigger for Joe than his family.
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