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Miller: All My Sons

6. Act 1 – "Her nose got longer" (pp. 18-23)

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read from the point that Kate enters to the point that Ann enters, focusing in particular on: (i) the failure of Keller's dream ("Once upon I time I used to think that when I got money again I would have a maid and my wife would take it easy"); (ii) Kate's interest in coincidence ("It's so funny . . . everything decides to happen at the same time"); (iii) Kate's body language at this point, especially in relation to the stage direction "MOTHER just looks at him, nodding ever so slightly—almost as though admitting something."); (iv) Kate's comment about Annie ("The only thing is I think her nose got longer"); (v) Kate's dream about Larry – flying in his fighter jet, then falling ("He was so real I could reach out and touch him. And suddenly he started to fall."); (vi) the symbolism of the tree, which is now explicitly connected with Larry's disappearance/death ("Everybody was in such a hurry to bury him. I said not to plant it yet."); (vii) the moment were Kate "looks into [Chris's] face" and the importance of both look and touch in this play: who is looking at who? who is touching who?; (viii) the importance of denial in the play (cf. Keller's earlier comment that Jim's wife Sue was "too . . . realistic"); (ix) Chris's comment that the Kellers are waiting for something that isn't going to happen ("We're like at a railroad station waiting for a train that never comes in.") and the idea of waiting in post-war drama more generally, e.g. Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (1953); (x) the imprecise setting of the play – where actually are we? – and the echoes of Thornton Wilder's Our Town (1938).


In this fifteen-part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Arthur Miller's All My Sons. In the first two modules, we think about the historical, cultural and literary context for the play, as well as exploring the themes of capitalism, greed and guilt. In the thirteen modules that follow, we go through the play page-by-page, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes, motifs, language and symbolism – as well as certain issues to think about when staging the play, e.g. haptics, proxemics.

Note: Page numbers are based on the Penguin Modern Classics version of the play (2000, ed. Christopher Bigsby). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in both text and page numbers.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

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APA style

McRae, J. (2022, January 12). Miller: All My Sons - Act 1 – "Her nose got longer" (pp. 18-23) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, John. "Miller: All My Sons – Act 1 – "Her nose got longer" (pp. 18-23)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 Jan 2022,

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