All My Sons – Essay-Planning

Choose a play in which a central character struggles to cope with social convention or financial difficulties or family duties.

Briefly explain the reasons for the character’s struggle and discuss how the dramatist’s presentation of this struggle enhances your understanding of character and/or theme in the play as a whole.



         State that AMS (by AM, 1945) is a play which features “a central character struggles to cope with… family duties”

         State that the character of Keller must balance his desire for affluence with duty to others

         State that his struggle leads to the fundamental aspect of the drama
Para 1:

         Explain that Keller is a “good man” at the start of the drama

         Show that he wants to do what is best for his family

         Show that the family is strong at the start


Para 2:

         Explain that the family is challenged by accusations from George

         Show that the audience suspects Keller but cannot prove it

         Show how Keller manages to pacify George


Para 3:

         Explain that the cover is blown when Kate slips

         Show that Keller sees his actions in terms of his duty to his family

         Show that he is convinced he has done the right thing


Para 4:

         Show how his sense of duty to his family is in conflict with his duty to society

         Show that Chris understands that our first duty is to wider society

         Show that Keller does not understand this until he learns that Larry held this idea of social responsibility



         Explain that the drama hinges on how Keller serves his duty to his family

         Say that his failure to act in a socially responsible way makes all the family guilty by association

         Say that when Keller finally understands, he is overwhelmed by guilt and kills himself at the play’s climax


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