This weekend, at the recommendation of fellow Mockingbirder David Gaston, I went to see a community theater production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Afterward, the reaction of a woman sitting behind me said it all:
“I think I’ll go stub my toe now, so I’ll feel better”
Arthur Miller’s play is all about sin, judgment, denial, guilt and hopelessness as played out in the lives of two families in post WWII anytown USA. In short, All My Sons is a classic exposition of the problem of being human. Be forewarned, there is no Good News here folks. The law comes at every character from all angles: father to son, wife to husband, neighbor to neighbor, brother to sister, and, ultimately, from beyond the grave. Here are a few of the more light-hearted quotes:
Chris : I don’t know why it is, but every time I reach out for something I want, I have to pull back because other people will suffer.
Sue : I resent living next door to the Holy Family. It makes me look like a bum, you understand?
Mother: You don’t realize how people can hate, Chris, they can hate so much they’ll tear the world to pieces.
Keller: You wanted Money, so I made money. What must I be forgiven? You wanted money didn’t you?
Mother: I didn’t want it that way.
Of the several themes explored in the play, the desire to earn forgiveness is artfully illustrated in the character of Joe Keller. Keller, the father, tries to pay for his sins by building up a business for his family- money for his wife, a future for his (surviving) son. In the end, however, he finds that his efforts are not enough to win over his idealistic and just son (Chris). Upon learning of the true consequences of his sin, Keller experiences utter defeat.
Keller: Nothin’s bigger than [family]…I’m his father and he’s my son and if there’s something bigger than that I’ll put a bullet in my head!
Although Miller’s play proposes no rescue from the intolerable burden of sin, thanks be to God there is “something bigger”! We have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1)