All My Sons

C 2 – why do you think Kate is so upset about Keller's jail games with Bert?

Act 1, neighborhood kid Bert asks Joe to arrest another boy for saying a bad word. Joe has given out that he has a jail in his basement. It's all fun and games until Kate comes in, angry, and tells them to cut it out.

Keller: …What happened was that when I got home from the penitentiary the kids got very interested in me. You know kids. I was [laughs] the expert on the jail situation. And as time passed they got it confused and… I ended up a detective [laughs].

Mother: Except that they didn't get it confused. [To Ann] He hands out police badges from the Post Toasties box. (1.438-439)

We start to understand that this jail game is one of the ways Joe has charmed the community into turning a blind eye to his crime.

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Mother doesn't like the word "jail" being used because she knows that Joe is guilty in the Case, and that he really should have been put to jail. She doesn't even want the neighbors to remember the case - which the word 'jail' could remind them of. She wants to forget about the case, because she knows that if it were to re-open, Joe will be proved guilty and the family will collapse.