Compromise is used when somebody is forced to settle on one thing in exchange for another. In the play All My Sons written by Arthur Miller, there seems to be the repeating theme of "compromise" among the characters. The theme of compromise is used in the play to help us understand its message. Each of the characters in All My Sons was faced with a compromise throughout the play. For instance, Jo sent out broken cylinder heads, knowingly, so the glitch in the manufacturing process wouldn’t affect his business "I'm in business, A man is in business, a hundred and twenty cracked, you’re out of business" (Jo, Act two, page 90, lines 9-11).
Chris left the war feeling that the men who had died in the war made a difference with their sacrifice. But once he came back home he realized that the war didn’t change the people and their ways after all. “I felt ashamed somehow. Because nobody changed at all” (Act one, page 45, lines 6-7). Soon Chris was drawn back into the life of money and power and he felt that by doing so he was compromising the responsibility he felt toured the martyrs of the war to make a difference. Kate is in denial of the truth that Larry’s dead because she doesn’t want to blame Jo for his death.
When Ann finds out Jo was responsible for the plane crashes she compromises by suppressing the anger she’s be feeling toward Jo. She does this so that she can be with Chris. And George compromised when he didn’t marry Lydia although he loved her because of values he felt she contradicted. In my opinion the biggest compromise shown in the play is Kate’s. Kate knows that Jo is responsible for the crash of the 21 planes but she decides to overlook what has happened for the love of her husband and the value of family. This compromise grows bigger when Larry goes missing because deep down she knows Jo is responsible.
"Your brother’s alive, darling, because if he’s dead, your father killed him” (act two, page 88, lines 29-30). Kate can’t bear the thought that Jo is to blame for her son’s death so she suppresses the anger she feels toured Jo with the false hope that Larry is alive and will be coming back. The compromises in the play represent the value of "Every man for himself" verses doing what’s right for the greater good. "Once and for all you can know that there's a universe of people outside and you're responsible to it". (Chris, Act three, page 111, line's 30-31).
Chris represents the aspect of doing what's right although it isn’t in your own interest, and the attempt to make a difference. "Don't, dear. Don't take it on yourself" (Kate, Act three, page 112, line 10) Kate is basically showing that after all that’s happened and even though Chris has tried to get the message through again and again she is still avoiding what's right, in exchange for her own comfort. By writing this at the end of the play Arthur Miller criticizes society's values and implies that society will never stop choosing their own comfort over the greater good.