All My Sons

In All My Sons, how does Chris rely on/look for forces outside of their control?

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Chris fancies himself something of an idealist fighting forces beyond his control.

Sue considers Chris a dangerous influence on her husband because of his belief in doing good. And Joe bemoans the ethical sensitivity of his son: "everything bothers him. You make a deal, overcharge two cents, and his hair falls out" (3.77). But, Chris seems to recognize and be proud of this vision of himself. After proposing to Ann, he tells her about the self-sacrifice of men in the war, and the lack of meaning that sacrifice seems to hold for people at home. He doesn't count himself among these thoughtless people.

Yet for all his talk about social responsibility is Chris really such a force of moral rectitude? As he admits at the end of the play, he's also a bit of a coward. He's afraid of his mother and won't be honest about his intentions with Ann. Perhaps part of him knows that telling her will unleash some fury he wants no part of. He attacks his father savagely when Joe's guilt is revealed, calling him lower than an animal. But after a night of thinking about it, Chris still can't bring his father to justice:

"I know what you're thinking, Annie. It's true. I'm yellow. I was made yellow in this house because I suspected my father and I did nothing about it… Now if I look at him, all I'm able to do is cry… I could jail him, if I were human any more. But I'm like everybody else now. I'm practical now. You made me practical." (3.122-124)

And listen to that guilt-evading language: "I was made yellow" and "you made me practical." Far from an paragon of moral responsibility, Chris is like a little boy blaming a broken teacup on the wind.