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All my sons and the generation gap

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Gavin J.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Arthur Miller's play
    1. The tragedy at the heart of Miller's play
    2. The socio-cultural backdrop of the United States
  3. Biblical connotations
  4. Miller's contextual nod to Oedipus Rex
  5. Miller's archetypal format
  6. The standoff between Joe and Chris
  7. Joe's traditional beliefs regarding his role as a father
  8. The generational conflict between Joe's dreams and Chris and Larry
  9. Chris' idealism
  10. Conclusion
  11. Bibliography

The modernism model challenged pre-existing socio-cultural norms and was exemplified by the discussion of social relationships in early twentieth century literature. The concept of modernism developed from refutation of creationism and reinforced self identity and self consciousness as a form of expression. Moreover, the modernism paradigm is inherently intertwined with culture and Eysteinsson and Liska argue that in terms of literary criticism, ?modernism constitutes one of the most prominent fields of literary studies today? (Eysteinsson and Liska, 2007:1). Indeed, leading anthologist Rainey asserts that in literary terms ?modernists were giants, monsters of nature who loomed so large that contemporaries could only gape at them in awe? (Rainey 2007, p.xix)

[...] All My Sons depicts the socio-cultural backdrop of the United States in the aftermath of the Second World War, which is imperative to understanding the relationship between central protagonists Joe and Chris Keller. Through this father and son relationship, the play underlines the ethical and moral issues through the conflict between realist Joe and idealist Chris. From a contextual perspective, Miller portrays both characters as victims of war through the themes of father son conflict, parental guilt, socio-cultural change, morality and ethics and the American dream through a contemporary revision of the Greek tragedy format (Otten p.12). [...]


[...] In particular, the generation gap between Chris and Joe demonstrates the intimate concept of self identity and far reaching changes in traditional social constructs regulating familial relationships. For example, Mitchelich posits that the combination of industrialization, urbanization and an increasingly diverse workforce culminated in a larger division of home and work life, which in turn contributed to the continuing downfall of the authoritarian father at home (Mitchelich 1969). Additionally, as regards the United States in particular, Gorer suggests that the socio-cultural development of America post Second World War propagated the decline of the role of the father, particularly as a country of immigrants: making of an American demanded that the father should be rejected both as a model and as a source of authority. [...]


[...] In describing his experience, Chris finds his own solidarity and responsibility in the definition of which reinforces Miller's use of the generation gap to highlight the relationship between self identity and society as a whole. However, in turn Chris is unable to see his father develop in the Mitschelich sense, which fuels conflict in their relationship. In turn, Chris has developed independent thought, which clashes with his parents: ?Honest to God, it breaks my heart to see what happened to all the children. [...]

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