45 pages 1 hour read

Arthur Miller

All My Sons

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1947

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Important Quotes

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“I’m just interested. To see what people want, y’know?”

(Act I, Page 84)

Joe is introduced to the audience in a seemingly speculative mood. He sits on his porch, reading his newspaper, beside the fallen tree that was planted to memorialize his missing son. Rather than the news, however, Joe is simply reading the wanted ads. He is meticulously incurious, affecting the poise of someone who is engaged with society while actually just passing his time by reading inconsequential listings. Joe is not just ignorant of what is happening in the world; he genuinely does not want to engage, for fear of having to reflect on what he has done.

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“The trouble with you is, you don’t believe in anything.”

(Act I, Page 86)

Jim’s accusation highlights the gulf between his worldview and that of his neighbor, Frank. Frank’s credulous optimism is the antithesis of Jim’s cynical pessimism, but neither pose is adequate to the task of facing reality. Each is a form of escapism, with Jim escaping the disappointment of his unrealized dreams by pretending nothing matters while Frank escapes the bleakness of life by through magical thinking.

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“Today a doctor could make a million dollars if he could figure out a way to bring a boy into the world without a trigger finger.”

(Act I, Page 88)

Joe’s whole personality is so devoted to making money that even as he laments the devastation of war, he does so in business terms, imagining the money someone could make inventing a cure for war.