ENG 4U 2011: All My Sons

Clearly, I am not in class today. The illness that  prevented me from eating lunch on Monday took an ugly turn early in the evening. I thought about applying the four terms we discussed yesterday to my vomiting–I assure you, it was certainly an opsis-level spectacle–but I don’t want to turn you off your lunch.

Instead, I propose the following:

  • Most of you have more reading to do. Continue reading the play. I will show you scenes from the play on Wednesday, meaning that we will have the Tutorial on Thursday.
  • I’d like everyone who has finished reading the play to dedicate time to preparing notes for Thursday. I’d also like you to form a discussion group for at least 20 minutes. Consider this highly useful practice for Thursday. If someone makes a brilliant point, write it down, and give them the credit during Thursday’s discussion; the “someone” will get the acknowledgement he/she deserves, and you get to contribute meaningfully to the discussion. A win/win, I think.

Questions/Points to Consider:

  • What words best describe Anne, Chris, George, Mrs. Keller, and Mr. Keller?
  • How healthy are their relationships?
  • What values, either spoken or unspoken, do these characters espouse?

Big Themes/Questions (A few points have been added)

  • What is the Voice of God? How might it connect to other texts we have studied this semester?
  • What does Miller’s stance during the government’s investigation into his “Communist ties” tell you about his character? How are these morals reflected in the characters of All My Sons? In particular, what might he think of Joe Keller?
  • Greek tragedy usually focuses on a larger-than-life character who is hubristic, and thus suffers a terrible fall.  Hubris comes in many forms, including pride, self-deception, and misplaced values. Which characters in All My Sons may be hubristic?
  • Does the structure of Greek Tragedy apply to All My Sons? Remember: Hubris is pride, Hamartia is a miscalculation/self-deception, Opsis is the spectacle of the hero at the moment of “the fall”, and Catharsis is the emotional cleansing the audience experiences by living vicariously through the hero.
  • Does All My Sons remind you of any other texts? Why? (I find that it has some really interesting similarities to Hamlet. Remember, too, that texts can include films, television, and any other form of art).

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