“…in her early fifties, a woman of uncontrolled inspirations and an overwhelming capacity for love”
Trace her development through the play so far and how far you agree with this description of her.
The character of Kate Keller, created by Arthur Miller and presented to us in the play of “All My Sons” is a very important and central character, a woman with her own strong views on life, just trying to do the best for her family, loving them and keeping the family together.
Prior to Kate’s appearance the audience have already discovered a lot about her via the other characters dialogue, actions and stage directions given by Miller. She is married to Joe Keller, and together they have two sons Chris and Larry, both of whom went to war, however many years have passed and Larry has still not returned. Kate is a mother who is still grieving over the loss of her son. She still holds out hope he will return one day and she can once again get on with her life. The audience hears a lot about the behaviour of Kate before we first see her on stage. Miller has used this technique to make the audience aware of her presence to show that she is a central focus in the family, and that everyone cares what ‘mother’ thinks. “See what happened to the tree, what’s mother going to say?”
When Chris first mentions his mother in the play, the mood on stage immediately changes as the dialogue and behavior of the characters becomes much more serious and tense. In a conversation between Chris and Joe, they talk about hearing her up and walking around in the night. There is a tree in the back garden which was planted when Larry was born. He would have been twenty-seven this month, and the tree a symbol of him, blew down that night in the heavy storms.
“What’s she going to say? Maybe we ought to tell her before she sees it?”
“She saw it”
“How could she see it? I was the first one up. She was still in bed.”
“She was out here when it broke.”
“About four this morning. She was standing right here when it cracked”
As Larry’s mother, she is still dreaming of him at night and crying hard for him, although we have a laid out confirmation from Chris Keller in a conversation with his father that he is not coming back, “You know Larry’s not coming back and I know it.” The audience grows a strong knowledge of Kate prior to her first appearance; we can already see her overwhelming capacity of love for Larry. The character of Kate first appears to be very irrational even before we meet her, she wants proof of his death, and without that still heavily believes he is alive and wont take no for an answer. She is building a false world around her, to protect her dream of still having two sons. We possibly have been given lots of clues and an insight to this character in order to show the audience that she will become a very important character later on when the play further unravels.