Kate wants her missing son to come home so he can have her family whole once again; while Chris and Anne want their new love and marriage to be accepted. Joe seems to be content as long as he can support his family with the money he’s making from his successful business. Everyone in this story has their own version of the American Dream, which makes the Sellers, as a whole, the protagonists. This American dream is what is responsible for what has happened to the Seller’s. Everyone wanting their own Ideal life pushes them to act against one another, creating their own web problems.
All this pressure has each individual fighting for their own personal American Dream. With everyone focusing on themselves and the drive for their own specific dreams; they don’t realize that the force of the dream itself eventually tears them apart. One factor that largely contributes to the situation would be society, where. And when this play takes place. Over all the social expectation of the American dream is the antagonist of the story. The American Dream has been something that has been around for a long of time. When world war II came around this dream seemed to die for most families.
It didn’t seem as important during the war because of what type of reality everyone was currently living in. Young men were drafted and taken away to war. Everyone worked harder than ever to contribute to helping as much as they could to win the war. Even though everything seemed to be going down hill, some families still had the American Dream In the back of their minds, especially Joe Keller. When the problem of the cracked cylinders arose all Joe could think about was losing his business and failing his family. For him that would be his ultimate loss of the American dream; in his mind he couldn’t come back from that.
The pressure he felt from the war Itself and his idea of the American dream seemed to almost force him onto making the terrible decision of covering up the mistakes, and shipping the damaged parts out. I do not believe that Joe ever really thought about what would happen to the soldiers that would be aboard those planes, and their families; all he could think about was his own family. The want for his dream blinded him of the reality that soldiers could be killed for his selfish actions. “All right but… But don’t think like that. Because what the hell did I work for?
That’s only for you, Chris, the whole shooting’-match is for you! ” (Miller 1 7) In this line, Joe clearly states that everything he did, his lying, and betraying of co-workers included, was so his son could take over the business. That was Joey’s dream, to give something to to his family ‘Off following his order to send out the cylinders; it is difficult to decide whether or not he would have done it without the pressure of his ideal American Dream in the back of his mind. For Joe his dream was the force that drove him, and succumbing to failure would be the loss of his dream.
The conflict for Joe, and the other characters, comes from within. Society has a severe impact on how they view themselves and what they want to be like. Because of this they are forced to constantly look at their own lives. When they do this they find flaws that do not live up to their dream. With this happening in every character it becomes clear that the conflict is between themselves and their want for more in life. For everyone in the story the American dream seems to be the goal, but they are so blinded by their own selfishness, they don’t foresee the consequences of their actions, especially Joe.
Through out this whole ordeal there is another character wanting his own version of the American dream, Chris Keller. Most people would agree that he’s the protagonist of the play. Chris is not only fighting for his relationship with Anne; but he is fighting for his mother to accept that his other brother, Larry, is dead and never coming back. “l 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. My whole bloody life, time after time after time. (Miller 16) In this quote Chris expresses the desire for his dream, but how he feels his mother is making it so he can never achieve it because of her own dream. It also shows how good of a person he is and that no matter the pressure he would never sacrifice what Joe did for his own dream. Therefore, if Kate cannot accept this, than it will make it that much harder for Chris to reach his own dream; his dream of moving on with his life and marrying Anne. Ironically Skate’s’ dream prevents Chris from having his. This seems to be his only conflict until he finally realizes the truth about his father.
Chris wants to believe the good in his father. From what is discussed in the play, you know that he has fought the thought that his father had purposely sentenced those soldiers to death. When Keller suggest they rename the business with Chris’ name, Chris seems to be held back by something. I think its’ the thought that maybe his father really was the one responsible for the planes going down. He pretty much has dismissed the idea from his head though, until George starts asking questions. Chris always had an idealized version of his father.
He would never want to taint his thoughts of him with the realization that he is in fact a murderer. This is another way Chrism’s dream would be ruined, considering sending American soldiers damaged parts that could kill them could be considered the exact opposite of the American dream. With this, Chris could no longer idealize his father, ND would ruin his own dream. Not only do the main characters of the play have to deal with this, Miller shows that everyone, including the smaller roles have to fight daily with their idea of the American dream.
For example, even Jim and Cue’s dreams get in the way of each other. “Jims a successful doctor. But he’s got an idea he’d like to do medical research. Discovers things. You see? ” (Miller 44) In this quote Sue is expressing her husbands dream, but not in a very admiral way. She talks about him as if she doesn’t care what he wants. She acts as if its childish. All she wants is for him to accept the fife he has and stop dreaming so big. In Sues mind, if her husband did go off and do even though its small, of how the force of the American dream is so strong.
It shows that it makes almost every body selfish. It is sad how Sue so easily dismissed her husbands dream as to not disrupt her own. I feel that it is incredibly ironic that everyone’s dreams seem to bring the whole family down. When each character tries to do something to better their life and their dreams, another persons dream gets in their way. It makes you question, if the pressure of the American dream wasn’t present in these characters lives, would everything have gone down differently?
I feel that without the pressure everyone in the play would be treating their problems a lot differently. I do not think Joe would have shipped those cracked cylinders. Considering Joe seems to be a good man in every other aspect, its very possible would have taken the loss and rebuilt his company as best he could. I think that Kate would still gravely mourn the loss of her son, but would be able to let go in order for her son, Chris, to be happy. Without the pressure of living up to the dream, a different kind of dream would come into play. A ream where everyone considers each others dreams.
If this were to happen then collaboratively I think the Sellers could have made better decisions that would lead to a better life over all. They would not seem to be so greedy and everyone would eventually benefit from each other characters selflessness. Miller seems to almost exaggerate everyone’s want for their own dream as to prove how effective it was during that time and still can be today. If everyone in the play had looked at the big picture rationally,instead of focusing Just on themselves, the outcome would have been drastically different.