45 pages 1 hour read

Arthur Miller

All My Sons

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1947

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Symbols & Motifs


All My Sons is staged in the backyard of a typical mid-century American town. The Kellers’ house serves as the backdrop to the entire play, giving a prominence to the home as an important symbol. For Joe, the house is the clearest symbol of why he has done what he has done. By building a business and buying a house, he is adhering to the principles of the American Dream. The house is evidence of Joe’s success, which has come in spite of his self-admitted lack of intelligence. Though hard work, he claims, he has provided for his family, and the house is a symbol of this legacy. At the same time, however, Joe’s success is not built solely on hard work. The house symbolizes his need to excuse his immoral behavior, and the way it dominates the stage represents the way his lies and misdeeds tower over all of his success. Joe deludes himself into believing that the house justifies his actions, even as this delusion is steadily torn apart over the course of the play. The house serves as a symbolic reminder to the audience of how Joe has excused this behavior, right up until the end.