Discuss the theme of social responsibility in the play All My Sons

Discuss the theme of social responsibility in the play All My Sons.


All My Sons by Arthur Miller is a play set during the second world war, and is about a successful businessman, Joe Keller, who has failed to fulfil his social obligations and has failed to recognise the role of society after he is blinded by lust for money during the war. He lives peacefully with his wife Kate and his son Chris, but had another son Larry who died in a plane crash during the war.

Social responsibility in the play All My Sons

The death of their eldest son, Larry, during the war has completely shaken Kate. Even after so many years, she believed that Larry would be alive somewhere. Joe Keller was a war profiteer during the war, and with his business partner, Steve Deever, had set up his own business to ship cylinders for fighter planes. social responsibility in the play All My Sons. However, Steve Deever, father of Ann Deever (now engaged to Joe’s daughter Chris) is in prison, after he was found guilty of shipping cracked cylinder heads for fighter jets. This resulted in the death of 21 fighter pilots, and the cylinders were shipped in the absence of Joe Keller, who was sick and on leave on that day. However, Steve never gave up the claim that he had shipped the cylinders on the orders of Joe over a telephone call.

Even when George (Steve’s son) goes to meet him to tell him about the marriage of Ann and Chris, after so many years Steve is still of the belief that he is innocent. This sparks feelings of uneasiness and suspicion in the mind of George, who is now a lawyer. As the story unfolds, social responsibility in the play All My Sons, everything changes, and it seems that the Deever family’s arrival in the Keller household has a purpose.

Steve Deever swore he would never forgive Joe, so Kate worries that Ann will try and harm her family to gain revenge for her father. Ann swears she holds no ill will and that her only desire is to marry Chris, which Kate considers to be an act of betrayal to Larry. Through all of this, Joe has been amiable and relaxed, playing peacemaker and defusing emotions. He seems at times to be almost perplexed and confused by the whole situation.

Social responsibility in the play All My Sons Next we learn that Ann’s brother George is on his way over. It seems that he has just met with their father, and George is hurrying over to talk to Ann. There is a bit of a discussion about what George, who has become a lawyer, might have been talking to Steve about and why he would be in a hurry to see Ann. During this conversation, Joe suggests that not only is he willing to get George a better job than he has now, but that he is also willing to hire Steve back when he has served his time. When asked why he would do this when Steve has been accusing him of being a liar and a murderer ever since the trial, Joe says that in all honesty, he never believed that what Steve did was as bad as everyone thinks. He says Steve just made a mistake – he didn’t mean to see anyone get hurt.

Discuss the theme of social responsibility in the play All My Sons

Upon George’s arrival, we learn that Steve has heard about Ann’s impending marriage to Chris, and both Steve and George are adamant that this should not happen, since Ann would find herself married to the son of the man who framed her father and allowed twenty-one American pilots to die because of defective parts. Ann refuses to give up on the man she loves, so George starts to brow beat Chris into admitting that Joe lied and that Chris has always known it. Discuss the theme of social responsibility in the play All My Sons. Chris seems to be unwavering in his faith in his father’s innocence, but several of his answers are a bit ambiguous. Joe then attempts to convince George that his wealth and power can fix everything. George is almost convinced by Joe, until Kate makes an off-hand remark about how Joe hasn’t been ill in fifteen years.

George immediately catches this remark and realizes that Joe must have lied about being sick when those engines were shipped. He begins questioning Joe, Kate, and Chris, and it suddenly becomes clear to all that Joe did let Steve take the blame for shipping the defective parts. George leaves as Chris goes into a violent rage, stalking Joe around the yard. Joe tries to defend himself by telling Chris that he made a mistake, and that he never thought they’d use the bad engines. He thought someone would see they were defective and send them back. He declares he only did it to make money to support his family, to leave something for his children—for Chris. Chris refuses to let Joe off the hook, telling him that this isn’t the legacy he ever wanted. He speaks of the integrity and the honor of the soldiers who he fought alongside of and who died for their country. He then leaves.

The Title All My Sons is taken from the last words of Joe Keller who is the tragic character in the play. His sense of guilt before his death, he quoted the words of his dead son Larry who made penance for the death of twenty-one pilots due to his loss of social responsibility in order to exhibit his individual responsibility to his family. This emphasis the importance of social responsibility. Larry's death made Joe Keller to learn his social responsibility. Joe listened Chris realises Larry's letter. So he said with broken heart, "They were all my sons"(All My Sons 89). Joe Keller viewed the personal benefit to his family as outweighing the hurt done to society. Finally the death of his own son Larry shows him that he cannot view his family as separate from the society. Joe Keller admits that he is directly responsible for his son's death because of his loss of social responsibility. If I have the means, I have the responsibility to employ them says Brooks in The Scions of Shannara. From this the power of social responsibility is clearly revealed. Joe Keller's obsession with profit that created the entire chain of corruption whereas, Joe Keller views his responsibility to his family, but he can't view the social responsibility. The society and the personal life are combined one and it is inseparable which forgotten by Joe Keller.

It is clear that the social responsibility is as much important as that of an individual's own responsibility. At the end of the play Joe Keller faces the truth of his own character and assumes his responsibility. As a result of his loss of social responsibility Joe Keller has lost the respect of his own son Chris, a young man of principle. Both Joe Keller and his son Larry commit suicide out of Joe Keller's loss of social responsibility. Joe Keller's selfish point of view of the world is juxtaposed with that broader point of view of his son Chris who understands the interconnected of the world and its society of the diverse communities and individuals.


We highlights the interdependence of people and societies. The importance of social responsibility is emphasized throughout in the play All My Sons. Every individual has certain social responsibility to other people and thus his/her actions have ramifications for the greater society. Social responsibility in the play All My Sons. The social responsibility and self protections are equally important and both should be treated well. If an individual his/her own responsibility is given much preference than the his/her social responsibility then the society will suffer which eventually causes troubles to his/her individual's life. So, the social responsibility of every individual are very essential.

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