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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Arthur Miller, Drama, War Poetry



All My Sons by Arthur Miller

Act I



  • What does Act I tell us about the main characters, the conflicts, the mood and setting? 
  • How is the war theme explored in Arthur Miller's play and W. Owen's poetry?
  • How realistic is the character, Chris?

Journal Writing:

  1. Is it morally acceptable for a brother to marry his deceased brother's fiancée? Explain.
  2. Is it wise to keep the  truth from the mother that her son is dead and let her continue hoping? 
  3. How would you handle the situation if you were a family member ?

Learning Activities:

1. Who is Arthur Miller?

2.Examine the title All My Sons, predict what might the play about? Write your prediction of the play.

3. There has been a theater production based on this play. Read the review on the play. As you start reading the play, try to compare your critique on the play to other critics', and defend your arguments.

Study Questions

Part I (pages355-381)

a. Make a list of key words that describe the stage setting, then draw the setting .On the other side of the drawing, list all the characters' names and their relationships among one other. Use this as your bookmark as you continue reading the play.

b. Describe Mr. Keller. Draw a portrait of him using  the key descriptive  words as captions of your drawing.

c. What happened to the apple tree in Keller's yard? How does Mr. Keller associate the apple tree with his son Larry? What happened to Larry?

d. Why did Frank say that Larry might still be alive?

e. What kind of relationship is there between Jim and Sue? Use some quotes (original dialogue between the two characters) to illustrate your points.

f. Describe your impression of Chris.

g. What game did Mr. Keller play with the little boy Bert?

h. What seems to be the conflicts between Chris and Mr. Keller?

i. What kind of woman is Kate Keller? 

j. What kind of role does she play in the Keller's family?

k. Who is Ann? What kind of relationship is there between Ann and the Keller's' family? 

l. Why is she here ?

m. What seems to be the conflicts between Chris and his mother Kate?

n. Why does Kate insist that Larry be still alive, and Ann still in love with him? What does this say about Kate's personality?

4.      Describe the initial exposition of the play- the setting, the main characters, the mood, and the emerging conflicts.

5.      Read about elements and structure in drama.

6.       Familiarize yourself with the terms about drama.

PART II (pages 382-391)

What do you know about the Korean War

Read some recollection poems written by people who were in the war.

1. How does Ann feel toward her father? What's Chris's opinions of him?
2. What could be the reasons for Mr. and Ms. Keller to defend Ann's father? How did Mr. Keller defend Ann's  father?
3. What is the purpose of Ann's visit?
4. What's the relationship between Ann and Chris?
5. Does Mr. Keller like Ann?
6. Does Kate like Ann? Explain.
7. Could you explain why  Chris's attitude toward his father  and the wealth his father   has made for him? Could his feelings be justified? How does this fact reveal the kind of young man he is?
8. What news makes Mr. Keller so nervous? Why?
9. From the stage description on page 390, how would you describe the relationship between Mr. Keller and Chris?
10. Why is Kate very nervous about George's visit?

Part III
Here is a collection of war poetry
1. Fallen
2. Poetry on American Civil War
3. British War Poets
4. Poetry of the First World War by Wilfred Owen

IV. Use the Discussion Forum to share your thoughts.

V. Enrichment reading Assignment:
Criticism on Arthur Miller's plays.

Copyright © IMPACT II, The Teachers Network 1999


Bo Wu teaches English at Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan.  She is a TeachNet Project Mentor

Subject Area: English
Grade Level: 11
Project Title: Arthur Miller, Drama, War Poetry
Project Page: click here
Email Contact: bodamato@hotmail.com 


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