The Dangers of Shirking Responsibility in Arthur Miller's All My Sons

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The Dangers of Shirking Responsibility in Arthur Miller's All My Sons Arthur Miller's All My Sons is a well-made play in every sense of that term. It not only is carefully and logically constructed, but addresses its themes fully and effectively. The play communicates different ideas on war, materialism, family, and honesty. However, the main focus, especially at the play's climax, is the issue of personal responsibility. In particular, Miller demonstrates the dangers of shirking responsibility and, then, ascribing blame to others. Nearly every character in All My Sons, in one way or another, fails to take responsibility. The Keller family, as a whole, is severely dysfunctional in that they keep secrets and tell lies at every turn. Chris, the most reliable character, understands that his family has "made a terrible mistake with Mother . . . . Being dishonest with her" (Miller 620). He realizes that there are consequences to such behavior. Indeed, as a result, Kate is on the verge of being delusional. She clings to the unrealistic hope that her son, Larry, will return from the war and marry his childhood sweetheart, Ann. For these hopes to prove false would, in her eyes, show for certain that there is no God. She says, "'There's God, so certain things can never happen'" (627). Yet Kate is not just a victim of this irresponsible behavior. She contributes to it. She, too, makes excuses for her actions, making it seem as though she cannot be any more culpable for her conduct than she already is. She tells Chris that she and Joe "'are stupid people. We don't know anything'" and tells Chris that he has to protect them (633). However, it is Joe who is the most irresponsible character within ... ... middle of paper ... ...amily wanted money, he did it, and that's "got to excuse it! . . . [For] Nothin' is bigger," and he adds that "'if there's something bigger than that I'll put a bullet in my head!'" (649). That is what he does. Suicide is the sad, harrowing conclusion for him and his family because he had not faced up to his wrongs earlier. Chris was, for the most part, the voice of wisdom in this play whose words of honesty and its importance should have been heeded. He states, "'That kind of thing always pays off, and now it's paying off'" (620). In the end, he does take his own words to heart that "there's a universe of people outside and you're responsible to it" (653). He begins to blame on himself for his father's suicide, and Kate tells him, "'Don't dear. Don't take it on yourself'" (653). Works Cited Miller, Arthur. ?All My Sons.? New York: Penguin Group, 2000.

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