The following sound file is a “give back” for my year 11s based on a close study of the following passage from All MY Sons, Act 2:
George: (To Ann) What more do you want! (There is a sound of footsteps in the house).
Ann: (turns her head suddenly toward house) Someone's coming.
Chris: (to George, quietly) You won't say anything now.
Ann: You'll go soon. I'll call a cab.
George: You're coming with me.
Ann: And don't mention marriage, because we haven't told her yet.
George: You're coming with me.
Ann: You understand? Don't... George, you're not going to start anything now! (She hears footsteps) Shhh!
Mother enters on porch. She is dressed almost formally. Her hair is fixed. They are all turned toward her. On seeing George she raises both hands, comes down toward him.
Mother: Georgie, Georgie.
George: (he has always liked her) Hello, Kate.
Mother: (cups his face in her hands) They made an old man out of you. (Touches his hair) Look, you're grey.
George: (her pity, open and unabashed, reaches into him, and he smiles sadly) I know, I...
Mother: I told you when you went away, don't try for medals.
George: (laughs, tiredly) I didn't try, Kate. They made it very easy for me.
Mother: (actually angry) Go on. You're all alike. (To Ann) Look at him, why did you say he's fine? He looks like a ghost.
George: (relishing her solicitude) I feel alright.
Mother: I'm sick to look at you. What's the matter with your mother, why don't she feed you?
Ann: He just hasn't any appetite.
Mother: If he ate in my house he'd have an appetite. (to Ann) I pity your husband! (To George) Sit down. I'll make you a sandwich.
George: (sits with an embarrassed laugh) I'm really not hungry.
Mother: Honest to God, it breaks my heart to see what happened to all the children. How we worked and planned for you, and you end up no better than us.
George: (with deep feeling for her) You... you haven't changed at all, you know that, Kate?
Mother: None of us changed, Georgie. We all love you. Joe was just talking about the day you were born and the water got shut off. People were carrying basins from a block away... A stranger would have thought the whole block was on fire! (they laugh. She sees the juice. To Ann) Why didn't you give him some juice!
Ann: (defensively) I offered it to him.
Mother: (scoffingly) You offered it to him! (thrusting glass into George's hand) Give it to him! (To George, who is laughing) And now you're going to sit here and drink some juice... and look like something!
George: (sitting) Kate, I feel hungry already.
Chris: (proudly) She could turn Mahatma Ghandi into a heavyweight!
Mother: (to Chris, with great energy) Listen, to hell with the restaurant! I got a ham in the icebox, and frozen strawberries, and avocados, and...
Ann: Swell, I'll help you!
George: The train leaves at eight thirty, Ann.
Mother: (to Ann) You're leaving?
Chris: No, Mother, she's not...
Ann: (breaking through it, going to George) You hardly got here. Give yourself a chance to get acquainted again.
Chris: Sure, you don't even know us anymore.
Mother: Well, Chris, if they can't stay, I don't...
Chris: No, it's just a question of George, Mother, he planned on...
George: (gets up politely, nicely, for Kate's sake) Now wait a minute, Chris...
Chris: (smiling and full of command, cutting him off) If you want to go, I'll drive you to the station now, but if you're staying, no arguments while you're here.
Mother: (at last confessing the tension) Why should he argue? (she goes to him. With desperation and compassion, stroking his hair) Georgie and us have no argument. How could we have an argument, Georgie? We all got hit by the same lightning, how can you...? Did you see what happened to Larry's tree, Georgie? (She has taken his arm, and unwillingly he moves across the stage with her.) Imagine? While I was dreaming of him in the middle of the night, the wind came along and...
Lydia enters on porch. As soon as she sees him:
Lydia: Hey, Georgie! Georgie! Georgie! Georgie! Georgie! (She comes down to him eagerly. She has a flowered hat in her hand, which Kate takes from her as she goes to George)
George: (As they shake hands eagerly, warmly)
The question: How does Miller use dramatic devices and language to convey the character of mother in this extract?
150506_001 The Give back
all my sons The CIE marking criteria