45 pages 1 hour read

Arthur Miller

All My Sons

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1947

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Character Analysis

Joe Keller

Joe Keller is the protagonist of All My Sons. The patriarch of the Keller family, he claims that everything he has done is for the family’s benefit. From Joe’s point of view, he is the embodiment of the American Dream: a self-made man who embodies the ambition and resoluteness of mid-century American capitalism. Though he would be the first to admit that he is not an educated man, he believes that his status as a business owner is evidence of his smarts. His house, his business, and his family are Joe’s evidence of success, vindicating the decisions he has made in the past. Joe is loud and unashamed of his success; he is happy to broadcast his ego to the neighbors and the community, situating himself as the personification of the American ideal.

Joe’s past is not as idealistic and as successful as he would have people believe, nor is the community in which he lives as friendly and as accepting as the locals insist. Joe was part-owner of a factory that produced engines to be used by the Air Force during World War II. Together with his business partner Steve, Joe made a great deal of money by manufacturing engines during wartime.