All my Sons is set in an American town, set after after World War II. The play takes place in the back yard of the Keller home, where a tree has been taken down by a storm.
The Kellers are middle-class and have a working-class background. They are financially comfortable and hard workers.
At curtain rise Dr Jim Bayliss ( the local doctor) and Joe Keller (is a middle-aged father, uneducated but sensible).
Jim is chatting with his neighbour and after some awkward talk about the recent weather events , they are joined by another neighbour by the name of Frank Lubey ( younger man)
Keller is reading the ads in the Sunday paper, and is impressed by all the different types of business. Frank sees the broken tree, and Keller replies sadly that it fell the previous night.
His wife has yet to see it, Frank refers to the fact that the tree was actually planted in memory of Keller’s son Larry, who would have turned 27 this month.
Frank knows Larry’s birthday as he has been preparing a horoscope for Larry at the request of Larry’s mother Kate (referred to in the stage directions as ‘Mother’ throughout).
She’s curious to know if November 25th (the day Larry went missing in the war) was a favourable day for her son. Those who think this (Frank and Kate, but not Keller), it would have been fairly impossible for Larry to die on a ‘favourable day’.
Keller says that a girl named Annie is sleeping upstairs. Jim has recently moved into the neighbourhood, so he has yet to meet Annie, with Frank eager to see an old acquaintance.
Jim’s wife (Sue Bayliss), informs Jim that a patient is calling. Jim hints that the patient is a hypochondriac, with Sue suggesting that he should be happy to take his doctor’s fee regardless.
Sue says that Annie should consider stopping by later, to see the improvements to the house that she used to live in, and they exit.
Lydia ( Frank’s wife) enters to mention the toaster has broken which means Frank exits. Lydia stays for a moment to question Annie if she remains unmarried (she is).
Lydia fails to understand how and Keller angrily states that it’s because of the war that Annie is single and that he has one son instead of two. She leaves.
Chris Keller enters , ( a 32 years old and seen as an affectionate, he clearly adores his father). They contemplate what Mother will say about the broken tree.
Bert ( a little boy) runs in . He and Keller have have fun playing a game in which Keller is the police inspector and Bert has been deputised to arrest other naughty children in the town.
Bert leaves to continue his patrol after being informed that there’s a jail downstairs.
Chris and Keller talk about the tree.
Early that morning, during the storm, Chris saw his mother standing outside beside the tree when it cracked.
She had been sobbing and wandering around at night, just the same as shortly after Larry died. Despite Larry having been missing for several years, Mother still believes that he is alive somewhere.
Chris thinks it’s wrong that he and Keller allow her to hold onto this dream, while they themselves are rather certain that Larry is dead.
They cannot prove that their son is dead, at least not to his wife, without a body or a grave.
Chris sits him down and informs him that he asked Annie to visit because he is going to propose to her. Keller is unsure about the idea, as Annie was Larry’s girl.
However from Mother’s perspective, Larry is not dead, so Annie is not available to Chris. Nevertheless Chris insists that there is no other girl for him, even though they have not seen each other since the war. He suggests an ultimatum: if his parents will not accept his marriage to Annie, then he and Annie will just get married and move elsewhere.
Keller is amazed that Chris would leave behind the family business.
Mother enters and she is somewhat younger than her husband. She states that it’s funny that Larry’s tree blew down in his birthday month, and this shows that he is coming back.
Chris attempts to change the subject and talk about how good Annie looks. Mother says that she loves Annie because she wouldn’t run off with another man as soon as her beau was declared missing.
Mother has a headache, they believe it’s from a bad dream in which she saw Larry reaching to her from the cockpit of his plane. She sees this as more evidence that they had been hasty in putting a memorial tree up for him.
Chris explains that maybe they should be trying to forget Larry, which angers Mother. Chris leaves to get her some aspirin, and Mother asks Keller if Chris intends to propose to Annie.
Mother says that if Annie is still single, that means that she has been waiting for Larry, and they dare not take her faith away. Mother gets somewhat hysterical, claiming that if Larry is not coming back, then she will kill herself.
She states that Keller in particular should still believe, however, Keller doesn’t understand why he in particular should believe. Bert enters, but Mother shoos him away, saying that they must end that jail business.
Ann and Chris enter. She is beautiful and strong-willed. Their entrance cuts short the argument. Jim and Sue momentarily enter and are introduced to Ann.
Sue informs Ann that she should never, not even in her mind, count her husband’s money. Ann and the Kellers contemplate their plans for the evening, and Mother mentions that the room Ann is staying in was Larry’s room.
She is surprised, because the closet is full of clothes and the shoes are shined. There is an awkward moment, and Mother pulls Ann aside to talk.
Ann explains that her parents are not getting divorced. Mother questions if Ann goes out much, and Ann knows that she is really asking if she is still waiting for Larry.
She explains that she is not and Mother insists that deep in her heart she must think he is still alive. Ann questions why Mother still believes, and Mother says it is because ‘certain things can never be’ not in a world with a God.
Frank enters and questions Ann about her brother George, the lawyer. He then asks when her father expects parole, and Ann becomes uncomfortable.
Frank leaves and she she is stunned to realise that the town is still talking about her father, even though he has been gone and in prison for years now. Keller explains that no one talks about the case any more, because when he got out of prison he walked down the street with his head held high.
It is slowly discovered that Keller and Ann’s father Steve had been in business partners during the war, and they had sold a shipment of cracked cylinder heads to the Air Force, which made twenty-one P-40s crash.
The two were tried, and Steve was found guilty and sent to jail, but Keller went home. Ann is surprised that Keller does not hold any grudges against her father, despite her father having attempted to blame the whole thing on him.
Ann holds a grudge, though; she has not spoken to her father since then. Chris agrees and calls Steve a murderer. For all they know, Ann explains, one of those cracked cylinder heads could have been in the plane that crashed with Larry inside. Mother is angered by this remark, and she insists that it all has nothing to do with Larry.
Keller explains that Steve was a little man who followed orders when the army called for the cylinder heads, and that the incident was just a mistake, not murder.
The parents leave, and Ann mentions that she will not be staying. However, Chris changes her mind by confessing his love. But their embrace is unsatisfactory to Ann, and Chris explains that he feels uncomfortable in his happiness because he survived the war, while all the other men in his company did not.
Ann says that Chris should be happy with his good fortune and proud of his money and his business.
Keller enters and explains that George (Ann’s brother) is on the phone. Ann leaves to answer the phone. Keller expresses puzzlement that George is calling from Columbus, where his father’s prison is.
Keller is suspicious that George and Ann are trying to open up the case again, and Chris is angered by the insinuation. Keller changes the subject and says he wants to rename the business for Chris, but Chris is uneasy with the proposition.
Keller believes that Chris is ashamed of their money, and he insists that it is moral money. Ann re enters and says that George will be arriving that night.
She and Chris leave. Mother enters and is stunned by the fact that George needs to speak to Ann. She questions what it is Steve actually has to tell George that has required George to take an airplane from New York to see him.
Keller explains there is nothing, and Mother twice questions him on that matter. Mother finishes with a warning that Keller should be smart.
All My Sons
In Joe and Kate Keller’s family garden, an apple tree – a memorial to their son Larry, lost in the Second World War – has been torn down by a storm. But his loss is not the only part of the family’s past they can’t put behind them. Not everybody’s forgotten the court case that put Joe’s partner in jail, or the cracked engine heads his factory produced which caused it and dropped twenty-one pilots out of the sky …