"All My Sons" By Arthur Miller

1093 words - 4 pages

Arthur Miller creates several conflicts in All my Sons in order to keep the play captivating for the audience. For example he portrays Chris to be a man that feels guilty about the money he owns because he gets it out of a business that does not value the labour it relies on, but on the other hand Joe, his father, is portrayed to be a man that will sacrifice almost anything, including his dignity, for the success of his business. The play revolves around conflicts such as this, about the question of morality, individualism and society as a whole. One might think that the exceptional circumstances of the family in which one son is dead while the other not only lives, but also plans to marry the former fiancée of his brother, that the play takes place after World War Two and that the setting is a backyard of a middle to upper middle class home in a small town in America might be the only reason for such dilemmas. However it is important to note that the roots of these conflicts are both timeless and placeless; they happen to everybody, every day, making this play a universal drama.The central conflict of the play revolves around the question of morality, a universal dilemma. Joe has the morality of a man who places his responsibility to his immediate family above everything else, including his responsibility to all the men who rely on the integrity of his work for survival. For Joe "It was only for Chris, the whole shootin'-match was for (Chris)" (59). In short, "He just wants everybody happy" (28). Chris' morals are guided by the belief that a man's duty and contribution to his fellow country men is paramount. He believes that "there's a universe of people outside and you're responsible to it" (69). One might argue that it is the experience of war that has changed him to believe this way, but the fact is that there is always a question being asked about whom one is working for-the greater good for oneself, or for the greater good for humanity? This might be exaggerated in this play because Chris has just been through a war where the men "[...] didn't die; they killed themselves for each other" (31). He is angry at the fact the world has not changed and that the selflessness of his soldiers counts for nothing. This is the central conflict of the play- a belief of working only for the good of the immediate family versus a belief that one should work towards the greater good of humanity. This is dilemma that it universal, however much it might be exaggerated by the circumstances of the play.The pressure to succeed, uncertainty of the future, and the question of individualism as faced in the play are universal dilemmas. Joe feels a pressure to succeed. He thinks that it's "only for Chris (15)" that he worked so hard so that his sons wouldn't have to start from scratch like he did. He believes that the means by which he made money are legitimate and justifiable. He also puts forward the point of no one "worked for nothing" and the world is all...

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