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Miller: All My Sons

12. Act 2 – "They made an old man out of you" (pp. 57-64)

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read from the moment that Kate enters to the moment she lets slip the fact that Keller was hardly ever ill. In particular, we think about: (i) the way the atmosphere changes every time a new character enters, as it does with Kate's entrance here; (ii) the relationship between Kate and George, including the haptics of their scene together; (iii) the relationship between public and private; (iv) the significance of Kate's mention of "all the children", which anticipates Keller's mention of "all my sons" at the play's climax; (v) the symbolism (once again) of the tree; (vi) the figure of Lydia, and the extent to which her entrance changes the mood once again; (vii) the distinction between those who fought in the war (like George and Chris) and those who didn't (like Frank); and (viii) the arrival of Keller, and the theme (once again) of responsibility and blame.


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.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2022, January 12). Miller: All My Sons - Act 2 – "They made an old man out of you" (pp. 57-64) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, John. "Miller: All My Sons – Act 2 – "They made an old man out of you" (pp. 57-64)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 Jan 2022,

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