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All My Sons Summary and Analysis of Act I


All My Boys takes place in a little American town in August, a few years after World War II. The occasions of the play happen on a single set, the back yard of the Keller house, where a tree has actually recently been taken down by a storm. The Kellers are sturdily middle-class and have a working-class background. They are not abundant, however they are economically comfortable, and there is a sense throughout the play that they strove to reach this state of stability.

At drape rise, Joe Keller and Dr. Jim Bayliss are in the backyard. Keller is a middle-aged daddy, uneducated but sensible and generally unexceptional. Jim, the regional physician, is making little talk with his neighbor. After some speak about the weather, another next-door neighbor goes into. Frank Lubey is more youthful, pleasant, and profoundly superstitious.

Keller reads the desire advertisements in the Sunday paper, and he is quietly impressed by all the different types of company there are nowadays. Frank notices the broken tree, and Keller replies sadly that it fell the previous night. His other half has actually not yet seen it. Frank refers obliquely to the truth that the tree was planted in memory of Keller’s child Larry, who would have turned 27 this month. Frank understands Larry’s birthday because he has been preparing a horoscope for Larry at the demand of Keller’s wife Kate (referred to in the stage directions as “Mother” throughout). She wants to know if November 25th, the day on which Larry went missing out on in the war, was a beneficial day for her son. According to those who think in these things (that is, Frank and Kate, but not Keller), it would have been fairly impossible for Larry to pass away on a favorable day.

Keller mentions that a girl called Annie is upstairs sleeping, and the reference of her makes Jim and Frank delighted. Jim is new to the neighborhood, so he has actually never ever fulfilled Annie, and Frank is eager to see an old associate. Sue Bayliss, Jim’s spouse, stops by to tell Jim that a client is on the phone. Jim indicates that the patient in question is a hypochondriac, and Take legal action against recommends that he ought to more than happy to take his physician’s charge whether the client is actually sick or not. Take legal action against points out that Annie should stop by later on to see what they have done to your house she utilized to reside in, and they leave.

Lydia Lubey, Frank’s spouse, goes into to suffer a broken toaster, and then Frank exits. Lydia lingers for a minute to ask if Annie is still single (she is). Lydia discovers that tough to think, and Keller replies bitterly that it is because of the war that Annie is single which he has one son instead of 2. She exits.

Chris Keller enters. He is an affectionate boy of 32, who clearly adores his daddy. They question what Mom will say about the broken tree. A little boy called Bert runs in. He and Keller have an extended make-believe video game in which Keller is the authorities inspector and Bert has been deputized to jail other children in the town. After being informed that there is a prison in the basement of the house, Bert leaves to continue his patrol.

Chris and Keller resume conversation about the tree. Early that morning, throughout the storm, Chris saw his mom standing outside beside the tree when it split. She had been crying really hard and wandering around at night, like she did soon after Larry passed away. Although Larry has actually been missing for numerous years, Mother still believes that he lives somewhere. Chris thinks it is unethical that he and Keller enable her to keep this dream, while they themselves are rather specific that Larry is long dead. Keller is resistant to making this truth final, however, since they can not prove that their child is dead, at least not to his partner, without a body or a tomb.

Chris sits him down and states that he asked Annie to visit since he is going to propose to her. Keller is lukewarm about the idea, because Annie was Larry’s lady. From Mom’s perspective, Larry is not dead, so Annie is not available to Chris. But Chris firmly insists that there is no other girl for him, although they have not seen each other since the war. He states a final notice: if his moms and dads will not accept his marriage to Annie, then he and Annie will simply get married and move somewhere else. Keller is shocked that Chris would leave the household service.

Mom appears. She is somewhat more youthful than her spouse, and she is very loving. She says that it is funny that Larry’s tree blew down in his birthday month, and this reveals that he is returning. Uncomfortable, Chris tries to change the subject and discuss how good Annie looks. Mother states that she enjoys Annie due to the fact that she did not run off with another male as quickly as her beau was declared missing. Mom has a headache, maybe from a bad dream in which she saw Larry reaching to her from the cockpit of his aircraft. She sees this as more proof that they had actually been hasty in putting a memorial tree up for him.

Chris states that possibly they should be attempting to forget Larry, and Mother rages. Chris exits to get her some aspirin, and Mother asks Keller if Chris means to propose to Annie. He answers noncommittally. Mother says that if Annie is still single, that suggests that she has been waiting on Larry, and they dare not take her faith away. Mom gets rather hysterical, claiming that if Larry is not returning, then she will eliminate herself. She states that Keller in particular needs to still think– however Keller does not understand why he in particular needs to think. Bert comes back, but Mom shoos him away, stating that they must end that jail organisation.

Ann and Chris go into. She is lovely and strong-willed. Their entryway cuts short the argument. Jim and Take legal action against briefly get in and are introduced to Ann. Prior to she leaves, Sue informs Ann that she need to never, not even in her mind, count her partner’s cash. Ann and the Kellers discuss their prepare for the evening, and Mother mentions that the space Ann is staying in was Larry’s space. She is shocked, because the closet is full of clothing and the shoes are shined. There is an awkward moment, and Mom pulls Ann aside to chatter. Ann says that her moms and dads are not getting divorced. Mother asks if Ann goes out much, and Ann understands that she is truly asking if she is still awaiting Larry. She says that she is not. Mom firmly insists that deep in her heart she must think he is still alive. Ann asks why Mom still thinks, and Mother says it is because “specific things can never ever be,” not in a world with a God.

Frank enters and asks Ann about her bro George, the legal representative. He also asks when her father anticipates parole, and Ann clams up. After Frank leaves, she is upset to understand that the town is still speaking about her dad, even though he has actually been gone and in jail for several years now. Keller declares that no one speaks about the case any more, because when he left jail he walked down the street with his head held high. It is gradually developed that Keller and Ann’s dad Steve had actually stayed in business together during the war, and they had sold a delivery of split cylinder heads to the Air Force, which made twenty-one P-40s crash. The 2 were attempted, and Steve was found guilty and sent to prison, but Keller went home. Ann is shocked that Keller does not hold any grudges against her dad, although her daddy had attempted to blame the entire thing on him. Ann does hold an animosity, though; she has actually not spoken to her dad ever since. Chris concurs and calls Steve a murderer. For all they know, Ann states, among those broken cylinder heads might have remained in the airplane that crashed with Larry inside. Mom is angered by this remark, and she firmly insists that it all has nothing to do with Larry. Keller says that Steve was a little male who followed orders when the army required the cylinder heads, which the incident was simply an error, not murder.

The parents exit, and Ann states that she will not stay. Chris alters her mind by confessing his love. However their welcome is unsatisfactory to Ann, and Chris describes that he feels uncomfortable in his happiness due to the fact that he made it through the war, while all the other males in his company did not. Ann states that Chris should be happy with his good luck and happy with his cash and his organisation.

Keller gets in and says that George, Ann’s sibling, is on the phone. Ann exits to answer the phone. Keller reveals perplexity that George is calling from Columbus, where his daddy’s jail is. Keller is suspicious that George and Ann are trying to open up the case once again, and Chris is outraged by the insinuation. Keller changes the subject and states he wishes to relabel the business for Chris, but Chris is anxious with the proposal. Keller thinks that Chris repents of their money, and he insists that it is excellent cash, ethical cash. Ann returns and states that George will be coming that night. She and Chris leave. Mother gets in and is shaken by the reality that George needs to speak with Ann. She asks what it is Steve needs to tell George that has actually needed George to take an airplane from New york city to see him. Keller insists there is absolutely nothing, and Mother two times questions his resolve on that matter. Mother ends up with a caution that Keller should be smart.


The essential events in All My Boys have actually already transpired. The only action that occurs within the time frame of the narrative is the discovery of certain realities about the past, and it is essential to track how the discoveries alter the relationships among the characters along with their own self-definition. Arthur Miller thoroughly controls the flow of details instead of focusing on plot and action. Hence the play, affected by the work of the playwright Ibsen, is paced by the slow revelation of facts. In the first act, not much is stated that is unknown to the characters, however it is all brand-new to the audience. Miller takes his time exposing the background details to the audience by having the characters obliquely refer to Larry and to his disappearance once again and once again, until all the essential information has been exposed through natural dialog. The description of Keller’s and Steve’s business throughout the war, and the ensuing scandal, is likewise exposed through insinuation and association. The first referral to Steve’s incarceration takes place when Ann says that her mother and daddy will most likely cohabit again “when he goes out.” This does not indicate much to the audience till Frank asks about Steve’s parole. Therefore, Ann’s estrangement from her father and the community’s hostility and interest towards the guy are established before the audience knows precisely where Steve is and how he got there. Miller’s adjustment of the background info heightens the anticipation and the curiosity of the audience.

Again, really little new information exists to the characters in this act. Chris reveals his intentions to marry Ann to his daddy, Ann discovers of Chris’s feelings of regret for making it through the war and coming house to an effective service, and Mother finds out that Ann has not exactly been waiting on Larry all these years. Yet Miller’s skilled and carefully planned withholding of the characters’ backgrounds avoids the first act from feeling like forty minutes of exposition– which, in function, it in fact is. The slow speed of the very first act also enables the scary of the criminal offense to leak into the environment, imbuing the audience with a sense that this picturesque, placid neighborhood has actually been injected with a slow toxin.

In addition, as in lots of plays and written works, Miller’s choices in establishing the relationships in this fashion enable him to closely manipulate the audience’s reasonings and judgments about each character. (The impact is not unlike that of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, in which the first-person narrator, speaking after the events of the story, gradually exposes Daisy Buchanan’s character to the reader.) Yet Arthur Miller did not have the narrative tools of the novel at his disposal like Fitzgerald did. A playwright mainly employs discussion. For that reason, readers and audiences should pay careful attention to the ways that Miller sets up the essential information about each character and their relationships. Keller’s persistence that Steve was not a killer, and Chris’s strong belief that covering those split aircraft heads was ethically remiss, are not simply foreshadowing. They are vital elements of each character’s personal trajectory, and these elements reveal the primary principle of the play: the past has an enduring impact on today which never ever quite disappears. Fitzgerald’s work leaves the reader with the message that one “can’t duplicate the past,” and Miller’s adds the caution that a person can not overlook the past either.

The first act also illustrates the tensions in between the characters that will increase to the surface in the 2nd and third acts. The Kellers look like a happy household in the beginning; it is even said that Chris is the unusual sort of individual who truly enjoys his parents. However there is bitterness beneath the surface of their pleased existence, bitterness that reflects more than simply sorrow at the loss of a boy. Larry was clearly the preferred of the Keller kids. Keller compares Larry’s business sense to Chris’s lack of it, and Chris grumbles that he has constantly played second fiddle to Larry in the eyes of his parents and of Ann, who was first betrothed to Larry. The family sometimes suggests bitterness that Chris, not Larry, was the child who survived the war. Chris is too idealistic, too soft about service. Like Michael Corleone in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Chris returned from the war with a new idealism that will not permit him to excuse his daddy’s shadier organisation practices. And like Vito Corleone, Keller thinks that his actions are legitimate if he acts for the sake of his household. In the end, like Michael Corleone, Chris must jeopardize his worths in order to safeguard his father and his own family.

Mother’s insecurities are expressed through her compulsive delusions about her dead son. She is anxious, suspicious of Ann, and highly superstitious. She can not handle her spouse’s casual “prison” game with the neighborhood children, since there is something weighing on her conscience. Jail has actually been a real specter in this household. When Keller reacts to her worries with “what have I got to hide?” we see the first idea that he does have something to hide after all– and Mom understands all about it– and it makes her sick with concern.

Ann is more of a basic character, satisfying of the plot however not actually a focus of the plot herself. All My Children is the story of the Kellers, so we do not see much of Ann’s reaction to the realization that her father was mainly innocent after all. She functions in this act as a catalyst, a femme fatale in the actual sense, the lady who brings damage to the false calm of the Kellers’ life by churning up a past that some of the household, in some methods, has tried to ignore. She and George have their own family drama, but Miller keeps a tight focus, so Ann’s and George’s story is not the subject of this play except inasmuch as their disgust for their father heightens the stress in between another son and a dad who might be guilty.

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