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Fathers and Sons

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Father and Son

But I am prouder - infinitely prouder - to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, 'Our Father who art in Heaven.' (Douglas Macarthur)

Even though the main father and son relationship in Arthur Miller's All My Sons does not display the "perfect" relationship they still hold respect and love for one another, they are each other's security. In this play the author displays a society in which the characters are selfish, and seem to care only about themselves and the things that may benefit them. The men in this play go through great lengths to get everything they want, even if their actions may bring harm to others. Mr. Joe Keller seems to be an exception in this play; He will go through a lot of trouble to benefit others, especially his family. Joe displays so much love for his family through his affection for his son Chris. Chris and Joe have an amazing bond that lies deep within them. The respect and love they hold for one another is unmatched by other characters, and seem to be hard to divide. Although Chris is Joes' son, Joe also has many other "sons" the men that fought in the war, these too are his children yet he deceives them.

Joe Keller and his son Chris are the main father and son relationship in this play; they are extremely close and completely respect one another however, they have much to learn, for one has a secret. Being a father means more then anything to Joe, it means the personification of graciousness and infallibility. Every move Joe makes in his life is for Chris. His entire factory that he has built from the ground up has been for Chris; his plan was after he retired that Chris would have total control over the business. After Larry, Joe's elder son passes away Chris becomes everything to him. His love and desire for Chris to be successful made Joe oblivious to all that surrounds him. Joe's ability to make thoughtful and rational decisions was hindered because of the love for his son. This is shown once again when Joe is displaying all of his appreciation for his son: "You get older, you want to feel that you... accomplished something. My only accomplishment is my son" (49). Even though Joe has accomplished a lot he still holds his son as his one and only accomplishment.

Chris is not the only son of Joe Keller. His other sons are also all of the men that went off to war and died. Joe knowingly ships out cracked cylinder heads that will crash an airplane if put in one. He allows them to be shipped out to prevent his business from going bankrupt. Later he claims that he did it for his family. Although he has many "sons" he only cares about the wellbeing of his one son Chris. Joe believes that if he ships out these cylinders and sells them to the government that the young men at war will die. He does not care as long as his son Chris is safe. He wants his business to succeed for the benefit of his family and so that Chris has a fortune to inherit and take over in the future. Joe feels he is doing what is best for his family and for his son, but in the end he realizes that he killed his other son, Larry because of his reckless mistake in addition to his other sons at war who flew the p - 40's with the cracked cylinders. Even though Joe goes through all of this trouble for Chris, Chris does not want "dirty money," he does not agree with the means his father took to obtain the money therefore does not want it.

If you can't get used to it, then throw is away. You hear me? Take every cent and give it to charity, throw it in the sewer. Does that settle it? In the sewer, that's all. You think I'm kidding? I'm telling' you what to do, if it's the dirty then burn it. It's your money, that's not my money. I'm a dead man, I'm an old dead man, nothing's mine... what do you want to do? (81)

Joe seems to be at his breaking point and does not know what to do or say to Chris anymore,



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