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Some people feel the strongest allegiance towards their family and are willing to do or sacrifice anything to protect them while others put their community or nation first. In Arthur Miller's fictional short play, "All my sons", Joe Keller is portrayed as a father who is desperate to keep his family together. During the war he knowingly ships out 120 cracked cylinder heads, crashing 21 P-40 planes, killing 21 soldiers. Although Joe's greatest concern is to protect and preserve his family, he ends up tearing it apart by committing crimes against his family, community, and humanity. Joe made decisions he felt were best for his family and is a good man at heart.
His life revolved around his family: "I'm his father and he's my son, and if there's something bigger than that I'll put a bullet in my head" (426)! He was willing to do anything for them, even if it meant sacrificing his own life. Joe made the poor decision of sending out cracked cylinder heads with his son's well being in mind: "Chris, I did it for you, it was a chance and I took it for you... when would I have another chance to make something for you" (420)? He wanted to preserve his business to give his sons something to come back to after the war. We also see that Joe has a good heart when he is constantly defending his ex-partner Steve: ."..
just try to see it human... I know he meant no harm... it ain't murder. You mustn't feel that way about him" (384). He also offers Steve a job after he gets out of jail: "While he's sitting there I want him to know that when he gets out he's got a place waitin' for him" (400). Normally if someone uses another man as a scapegoat and sends him to jail, he would want to avoid that person forever.
Instead, Joe shows guilt and wants to help Steve re-establish his life. Joe's goal is to protect and preserve his family but he does the opposite when he ships out the damaged goods. Joe lies to his son and his son's fianc " ee, Ann, about the crime. He leads them to believe that it was Steve's, Ann's father's, decision and fault in shipping out the cracked cylinder heads. When Chris finds out the truth about his father, he is extremely devastated: "I know you were no worse than most men but I thought you were better.
I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father. I can't look at you this way, I can't look at myself" (431)! Chris's ays this with his voice "almost breaking", revealing his pain (SD 431). Not only did Joe disappoint Chris, he is also responsible for the death of his other son, Larry. Larry writes a letter to Ann after he reads about his father, telling her of the shame and hopelessness he felt: "I can't bear to live anymore... How could he have done that...
I can't face anybody... I'm going out on a mission in a few minutes. They " ll probably report me missing" (431). Larry is humiliated and heartbroken by Joe's crime and takes his own life. Even though Joe did have his family's interest at heart, it did not justify his culpable actions against the community and humanity. There was a war being fought and the whole community was involved.
His sons were in the war and Joe was killing soldiers on their side: "I was dying everyday and you were killing my boys... What the hell do you think I was thinking of, the Goddamn business" (420)? It was a crime against his fellow man: "[The soldiers] were all my sons" (432). Joe lied to his neighbors and friends, pretending that he did nothing wrong: "The day I come home, I got out of my car; -- but not in front of the house... on the corner... and I walk down the street. But very slow.
And with a smile" (381). He gained back the community's trust, "Fourteen months later I [was] a respected man again; bigger than ever" (382). But he didn't deserve this trust since he gained it in a dishonest way. Joe also broke apart George, Ann and Steve's family.
As a result of her father's supposed crime, Ann has "never written to [her father]. Neither has [her] brother" while their father was in jail. Joe's crime against humanity was murder. Murder by definition is to kill another human dishonestly. Joe knew that the cracked cylinder heads would crash planes but he sent them out anyway: "You even knew they wouldn't hold up in the air...
It means you knew they'd crash" (420). There is a certain responsibility one must have of watching out for his fellow man; that "there's a universe of people outside and you " re responsible to it" (432). Joe failed this responsibility. Joe's crime was much greater than just breaking apart his family.
He deceived his community and country. His actions led to the death of 21 young men, as well as his own son's. As a result of trying to maintain his family and business in an unlawful way, Joe lost and destroyed what meant most to him.
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