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All My Sons By Arthur Miller: Summary & Characters

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  • 0:02 Introduction to the Play
  • 0:23 Characters
  • 2:10 Plot Summary: Act I
  • 3:33 Plot Summary: Act II
  • 4:18 Plot Summary: Act III
  • 5:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Megan Pryor

Megan has tutored extensively and has a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Fiction.

In this lesson, learn about Arthur Miller's three act play, All My Sons. The lesson reviews a summary of the play's events and the major and minor characters.

Introduction to the Play

Arthur Miller was a playwright who was most active from the 1940s to the 1960s but continued to produce notable works and receive awards in his field up until his death in early 2005. All My Sons, a three-act play written by Miller in 1947, is one of his best-known works. All My Sons was adapted for the screen in 1948.

Characters

There are a lot of characters in All My Sons. They can be separated into major characters, which are directly affected by the events in the play; and minor characters, which are not.

Major characters in the play are the Kellers and the Deevers.

  • Joe and Kate Keller: They have two sons, Chris and Larry. Larry has been missing for three years, ever since his plane crashed during the war. At the time of his disappearance, Larry was dating Ann Deever, the daughter of Joe Keller's business partner, Steve Deever. Now Chris and Ann are dating, and Chris proposes to Ann during the play.
  • Steve Deever: He has two children, George and Ann. Steve is currently in jail since he took the fall for the bad airplane parts that Joe Keller knowingly delivered to the military. George is angry at the Kellers for destroying his family. Ann loves Chris and wants to marry him.

The minor characters in the play are several neighbors of the Kellers.

  • Frank Lubey is a neighbor, and he helps Kate by researching Larry's horoscope for the day he went missing to find out if he is still alive.
  • Lydia Lubey is Frank's wife and George Deever's ex-girlfriend. She represents the kind of wife George might have had, had his father not gone to jail.
  • Jim Bayliss is another one of the Kellers' neighbors. He is a doctor. He is friends with Chris because they both served in the military together. He and his wife, Sue, live in the house that the Deevers used to live in.
  • Sue Bayliss is Jim's wife. She tells Ann that everyone in the neighborhood blames Joe for the loss of the pilots who died due to faulty engine parts.
  • Bert is an 8-year old boy who lives down the street. He mentions jail at one point, a semi-forbidden subject, considering that Steve Deever is currently in prison because of selling faulty airplane parts to the military under Joe's orders.

Plot Summary: Act I

All My Sons has three acts.

Act I introduces Joe and Kate Keller and their two sons, Larry and Chris. Larry has been missing for three years, ever since his plane crashed in the war. Kate believes Larry is still alive but Chris does not, and he tells his dad to talk to his mom about her delusions. Kate asks one of their neighbors, Frank, to look up Larry's horoscope for the day he went missing.

Since Chris is convinced that his brother is dead, he wants to propose to Larry's ex-girlfriend, Ann Deever. Ann and her family used to live next door to the Kellers. Several neighbors come together in the Kellers' back yard and mention the fact that Ann is visiting the Kellers. Kate refuses to support Chris's plans to marry Ann because she believes that Larry is still alive.

It is revealed in this act that Ann's estranged father, Steve, is currently in prison for selling damaged airplane parts to the Air Force. Many planes crashed because of the cracked cylinder heads. But he was not working alone. Joe Keller was his business partner, although he was not convicted of the crime. Ann voices the possibility that her father's actions indirectly resulted in Larry's death.

Chris loves Ann and does not blame her for her father's actions, even if they might have resulted in his brother's death. He proposes to Ann. Act I ends with the Kellers receiving a phone call from Ann's brother, George, who announces that he is coming to take Ann home.

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