Understanding Arthur Miller's "All My Sons"

Essay by GRabney March 2003

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In Arthur Miller's drama, All My Sons, the characters of Jim Bayliss, Frank Lubey, Chris Keller and George Deever, all have difficulty in accepting the realities of life, and the possibilities of the future. Though all different in nature, they all willing to settle instead of striving for what they want. Unfortunately, they don't realize that they are settling, instead believing that they are living according to their principles.

The easiest character to understand is Frank Lubey, due mostly to his limited role. Frank is a haberdasher and astrologer and as a haberdasher, he considers himself a success, not in the sense of his occupation, but that he provides for the needs of his family. When Ann asks him if he's still a haberdasher, he answers with a defensive "Why not?" as if to ask her whether or not she thinks there is something wrong with him being one. He quickly adds, "Maybe I too can get to be president," pointing out that President Harry Truman was once a haberdasher, an attempt to put himself on the same level with the President.

If it was good enough for Truman it should be good enough for anyone.

His interest in astrology allows him to believe that he has a deeper understanding of life, reassuring himself that he is what he is supposed to be and not anything less. If fates determine events, than to strive to be more is fruitless. When Keller and Jim discuss the merits of different occupations, Frank is fast to defend them all as "an honorable profession." If all professions are honorable, that so is his. He provides for Lydia, and he is determined to convince himself that he is okay with it.

The others think they believe that a man makes of his life what he...