By Harold Bloom
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Extra info for Arthur Miller (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
The relationship between Joe and Chris Keller in All My Sons provides an intriguing early arena for this unresolved tension—one whose implications obviously go well beyond the vision of Arthur Miller. The conflict between these impulses issues from Miller’s identity as a contemporary Jewish American; and before turning to the text of the play, it may be helpful to explore its cultural sources at some length. Miller himself, it should be noted, has generally discouraged this approach, stressing Instead the universality of the father-son conflict.
Seeming the antithesis of The Crucible, Part III in fact provides an ironic counterpoint to Miller’s play, the growing isolation of the tragic protagonist becoming, in the Wooster Group’s transformation, the half-suicide, half-ecstasy of Kate Valk’s “faint dance” or the solitary perusal of a newspaper by Ron Vawter. The Wooster Group, Arthur Miller and The Crucible 37 Thirdly, none of the Wooster Group pieces, within itself, provides an unambiguous frame of reference or offers a clear signal of meaning.
But the boy’s reactionary attitude was overthrown by two events. One was gradual: his father’s steady loss of income, causing a decline in both their standard of living and the father’s morals. As Timebends reports, [By the fall of 1932] There was an aching absence in the house of any ruling idea or leadership, my father by now having fallen into the habit of endlessly napping in his time at home. . Never complaining or even talking about his business problems, my father simply went more deeply silent, and his naps grew longer, and his mouth seemed to dry up.