All My Sons Textual Analysis Practice
Format of the Unit Test • You will be presented with a piece of literature that may be: • A poem • A short story • An extract from a larger piece of prose fiction. • An extract from a drama text. • If the literature is an extract from a larger piece, you will be given a rough description of the text that the extract comes from. • For example, consider “All My Sons”, pages 66-68: • The play from which this extract is taken is set several years after World War Two. Chris has just discovered that his father, Joe (Keller in the script), was responsible for selling faulty machine parts to the US Air Force during the war, an act that resulted in the deaths of twenty-one pilots. Chris’ older brother Larry was in the Air Force and never returned after the war – most of the characters in the play believe that he is dead. • Make sure you read any contextual information, then read the extract before attempting to answer the questions relating to it.
Textual Analysis – Example Questions • Consider Keller’s lines on page 66. Give one piece of evidence that shows he admits he was responsible for allowing the cracked cylinder-heads to be shipped. • “He never flew a P-40” – suggests that Joe is prepared to concede that he allowed the parts to be shipped, provided Chris acknowledges that this action could not have caused the death of Joe’s son Larry.
Textual Analysis – Example Questions • Look at Keller’s large speech in the middle of page 67. Show how the author’s use of word choice conveys his fear of losing his business. • “tear up your contracts” – “tear” suggests the vicious, uncaring nature with which Joe believes the government would terminate their contract with his business. • “knock you out” – “knock” suggests the sudden and violent way in which Joe believes the government could terminate their partnership with his company – like being knocked out in a boxing match. • “in five minutes” – suggests the sudden way in which Joe believes the government could terminate their contract with his business.
Textual Analysis – Example Questions • Look at Chris’s last speech on page 68. • What is Chris’ tonein this speech? • Angry, disgusted, horrified • Pick out two expressions that reveal this tone and explain how they do so. • “the Goddam business” • “Goddam” suggests Chris’ contempt for the value his father attaches to his business • “What the hell are you?” • Suggests Chris believes Joe’s actions are so alien to him he is unidentifiable as a human. • “You’re not even an animal” • Suggests the contempt Chris has for his father’s behaviour, suggesting no living creature would behave in this way. • “I ought to tear the tongue out of your mouth” • Suggests Chris feels the only way his father’s behaviour should be responded to is with this brutal act of violence.