Character Sketch of Joe Keller in All My Sons

Joe Keller is a central character in Arthur Miller’s play “All My Sons.” The story revolves around the Keller family and explores themes of morality, guilt, and the consequences of personal choices.


  • Outward Affability: Joe Keller is portrayed as an affable and outgoing man. He is well-liked in the community and maintains a friendly demeanor, which conceals some of the inner conflicts he faces.

Character Traits:

  • Patriarchal: As the head of the Keller family, Joe holds a patriarchal role. His actions and decisions significantly impact the dynamics within the family.
  • Provider: Joe is driven by a desire to provide for his family. This motivation, however, leads him to make decisions that have profound ethical implications.
  • Pragmatic: Joe is depicted as a pragmatic individual. His decisions are often guided by practical considerations, and he prioritizes the financial well-being of his family.

Conflicts and Morality:

  • Guilt and Responsibility: Joe grapples with guilt and responsibility, particularly concerning a business decision that had tragic consequences. This internal conflict becomes a central theme in the play.
  • Evasion of Blame: Joe engages in a degree of self-deception and evasion of blame to protect his reputation and maintain a façade of respectability.


  • Fatherhood: Joe’s relationship with his son Chris is central to the narrative. The complexities of their dynamic and the impact of Joe’s past decisions come to the forefront as the story unfolds.
  • Marital Dynamics: Joe’s relationship with his wife, Kate, also undergoes strain as the family confronts the consequences of the past.

Themes Represented:

  • Business Ethics: Joe’s character represents the moral dilemmas associated with business ethics. His decisions regarding the manufacturing and shipment of faulty airplane parts have far-reaching consequences.
  • The American Dream: Joe embodies the pursuit of the American Dream, with a focus on economic success and upward mobility. However, the play raises questions about the moral cost of such ambitions.

Tragic Figure:

  • Tragic Flaw: Joe Keller can be seen as a tragic figure with a fatal flaw – his willingness to prioritize personal gain over ethical considerations. This flaw leads to devastating consequences for his family and himself.

Conclusion: Joe Keller is a complex character in “All My Sons,” serving as a vehicle for exploring the moral complexities associated with personal choices and societal expectations. His character reflects the broader themes of post-war America and the moral fallout of individual pursuits in the pursuit of the American Dream.

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