The play actually deals with the fate of Joe Keller, an uneducated self-made man who has committed an atrocious act during World War II. The play ends with the of the Joe Keller who repents after being exposed with the content of his son Larry’s letter. As mentioned earlier, Joe Keller is an uneducated self-made man who has committed an atrocious act during World War II. Keller has as partner Steve Deever and their factory manufactures cylinder heads for aircrafts. During the war, they receive a contract from the army to supply cylinder heads on an urgent basis.
However the cylinder heads had hairline cracks in them and Keller is immediately informed by Deever. But Keller asked Deever to get the cylinder heads welded and that he would take full responsibility of the damaged products. Unfortunately those damaged cylinder heads cause twenty-one planes to crash killing their pilots. However at the trial Keller denies responsibility and is exonerated, and the blame shifts to Steve Deever who is imprisoned. Following that Joe Keller lives in total impunity with his family.
However when he is confronted with the content of his son Larry’s letter, he is forced to realise his fault. In fact Larry’s letter was intended to his fiancee Ann, in which he reveals that he was shamed by his father’s involvement in fraud and profiteering. Consequently he committed suicide by allowing his plane to crash. However the content of the letter was kept secret by Ann because of her selfish motive to get married to Chris who is Larry’s brother. Moreover she did not want to break the harmony of the home of her would be in laws.
But finally the content of the letter is revealed to Kate Keller by Ann because the former is still refusing the union of Ann and Chris. Consequently Ann uses the letter as her trump card to save her future union with Chris and the letter forces Kate to accept to accept Larry’s death and her husband’s crime of killing twenty one pilots. Moreover Chris is also made aware of the content of the letter and is unwilling to forgive his father. Consequently Joe Keller is confronted by Chris and based on the content of Larry’s letter, Joe keller is compelled to reveal the truth of the case to Chris.
Joe Keller tries to justify his acts by arguing that he had worked in the interest of his family. But Chris being an idealist condemns the act of his father. Finally Joe Keller realises his fault and understands the disastrous implications of his actions. In order to escape from guilt and repay for his crime, he commits suicide. To conclude, it can be said that the Larry’s letter is indeed of prime importance in making Joe Keller realise his fault, but who unfortunately has a tragic end.