Which character in ‘All My Sons’ suffers the most?
Every character in ‘All My Sons’ suffers in some way. Joe Keller suffers enough to cause him to commit suicide at the end of the play. He also has to suffer with the threat of being exposed as guilty throughout the play, his mood fluctuating between two extremes. When he is calm at the beginning of the play when there is no threat of exposure, he speaks “softly”. His reaction to the threat of exposure is so painful for him his character becomes almost inverted, he speaks “more nervously” and at one point “cruelly”. This dramatic change in character indicates the internal suffering that Joe is enduring.
Joe also has to suffer the loss of both of his sons. This loss is demonstrated symbolically through the falling of the apple tree, and Jim Bayliss’ imagery of the extinguished star. It is the loss of his sons that causes him to commit suicide, as the one thing that was driving Joe was the love of his family. Once he has lost this he no longer has reason to live.