ALL MY SONS: WHAT IMPRESSION DOES THE AUDIENCE GAIN OF KATE BEFORE SHE APPEARS ON THE STAGE IN SECTIONS 1&2 OF ACT 1?

This was written about a year ago.


One of the impressions that we get about Kate is that she is the most hopeful in her family, but she is in complete and utter denial of any possibility that Larry is dead. She relies on horoscopes – an inaccurate and far-fetched source – as a way to provide evidence to everyone that he is still alive, when in fact it is unreliable and gives her nothing but false hope. This is revealed when Keller asks Frank “Oh, Kate asked you to make a horoscope?” showing that Frank does support her and adds onto her false belief, however her own husband is skeptical and shocked about the idea of using a horoscope. Moreover, this contrast between the beliefs of the characters implies that there may be conflict occurring later on between Kate and her husband. Although, through her using horoscopes as a form of assurance, it reveals to us that Kate is running out of ways to sustain her hope or that the ‘fate’ that she so happens to hope is in her sons “favour” is not showing her any signs that he is alive. This is then why she starts to turn to more absurd things like the horoscopes; she is desperate for another way of support as her husband and son seem to have accepted Larry’s supposed death and she is not getting any signs that he may be alive.

Furthermore, another impression of Kate that we get is that she is emotionally unstable. When Chris says he wants to marry Ann, Keller tells him that “from Mother’s point of view he is not dead” implying that Kate would not support them as he has “no right to take his [Larry’s] girl.” This direct unacceptance from Mother shows us that the death of her son affects her logical thought processes. Kate, if she had a  choice, would not allow her son to marry a woman of her choosing because marrying Ann would mean that Larry is dead and there is no future with him in her life again. Moreover, we also hear about how she “ran back into the kitchen and cried hard.” The dynamic verb, “ran” paired with the verb “cried hard” suggests the extreme physical and emotional strength of Kate’s reaction to the tree – a symbolism for Larry’s life.

However, from all of the things the other characters say about Kate we can tell that her grieving is not unusual for a mother. If she were to react alike her husband or Chris, we might get the impression she  does not care as much as she is made to play the expected maternal figure. When Chris describes the tree as being “cracked”, it has a connection with Kate being broken too. She is worn down and can not withstand the pain that everything is going against her. Along with her emotions being unstable, everyone tries to hide secrets from her and she dominates conversations even if not present, more evidently when Chris and Keller talk. Questions such as “what’s she going to say?” and “why do we allow her to go on thinking we believe her?” and imperatives such as “you can’t say that to her“ show us that Kate affects people’s actions, especially within her family. Whilst Keller tries to protect his wife from knowing information and is careful of not mocking her beliefs, Chris wants her to find out the truth and stop her from, ultimately, living a lie and staying in the shadow. The two characters therefore have a conflict in terms of what or how they deal with Kate and she dominates the topic of the conversation and how characters react to Larry.

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