All My Sons

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Steve Deever Character Analysis

Never seen in the play, Steve Deever, Annie’s father, was Joe’s subordinate at the manufacturing plant, and his cowardice in allowing the parts to be caulked over and shipped has landed him in jail. Steve, however, knows that Joe ordered him to caulk over the parts, and Steve therefore demands that Joe, too, face justice for the crime he has committed.

Steve Deever Quotes in All My Sons

The All My Sons quotes below are all either spoken by Steve Deever or refer to Steve Deever. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin edition of All My Sons published in 2000.
Act 1 Quotes

It’s wrong to pity a man like that [Steve]. Father or no father, there’s only one way to look at him. He knowingly shipped out parts that would crash an airplane. And how do you know Larry wasn’t one of them?

Related Characters: Ann Deever (speaker), Larry Keller, Steve Deever
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

Ann states without guilt that if her father, Steve, knowingly was involved in the shipping of faulty parts for airplanes during the war, then he should be punished. Ann believes that the guilt for the airmen's deaths should fall on the heads of those who were negligent in manufacturing the parts. She does not seem to imply that Joe was one of these people—she places the blame squarely on her father's shoulders, despite their close familial relationship.

But, of course, the other characters in the play recognize that Joe might very well have been responsible for the shipping of the parts as well, and that Joe might even have "sold out" Steve in order to protect his (Joe's) family, at Steve's expense. Ann appears not to believe this. But others in the community wonder if Ann hasn't returned to "check up on" the Keller family, to see whether Joe has been unfair to her father, who is currently in prison for his crime. 

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The man was a fool, but don’t make a murderer out of him.

Related Characters: Joe Keller (speaker), Steve Deever
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

Joe's motivations for justifying Steve's behavior (knowingly shipping faulty parts for airplanes during the war) are complex. We learn later that Joe really is guilty of negligence, and that he is doubly guilty for foisting the blame entirely on Steve. By the end of the play, it sounds as though Steve simply was not strong enough to stand up to Joe and prevent the shipment of the parts. Nevertheless, the prime mover in the shipment was Joe, and therefore he should have paid most mightily for his crimes. Yet Joe walks around the community unpunished—until the very end of the play. 

Here Joe is inclined to say that Steve was only being foolish—that Steve was certainly to blame, but that Steve is no criminal. In this way Joe sounds like he's being generous about his former partner, when in reality he's defending his own actions to himself. It is a rich piece of acting on Joe's part, and a part he has been playing openly in the community since the close of the war and the trial that ensued. 

Act 2 Quotes

. . . you and George . . . go to prison and tell him [Steve] . . . “Dad, Joe wants to bring you into the business when you get out.”
You’d have him as a partner?
No, no partner. A good job.

Related Characters: Joe Keller (speaker), Ann Deever (speaker), Ann Deever, George Deever, Steve Deever
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

Joe's comments to Chris and Ann are as complicated as many of his other emotional responses in the text. Joe and Steve were partners in the airplane-part business—thus, Joe offering Steve a job is, at best, a less-valuable offer than the job Steve originally had. Of course, it is later revealed that Joe also testified against Steve and put him in jail, allowing him to take the fall for the entire faulty-part affair. Many have repudiated Steve and his actions—including Ann—although George, Ann's brother, seems more willing to defend their father. 

Joe, in short, feels that he owes at least something to Steve for the time Steve has served in prison. But Joe cannot come out in public and say that he, Joe, blamed Steve for the problem, or that this "generosity" on his part is really a feeble attempt to ease his own guilt in the affair. Thus, as in other parts of the play, the characters are damned both by their crimes and by their inability to expiate for them. Joe, at the end of the play, is horrified when his guilt is revealed, and he kills himself as a result. But he is also obviously relieved at having made plain the internal burden he has borne for so long.

How is he [Steve]?
He got smaller
Smaller?
Yeah, little. He’s a little man. That’s what happens to suckers, you know. It’s good I went to him in time—another year there’d be nothing left but his smell.

Related Characters: Ann Deever (speaker), George Deever (speaker), Steve Deever
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

George is clearly the most embittered character in the play. He is desperately angry at the Keller family for what he feels is their injustice toward his father. George seems to understand that his father, Steve, could not have acted alone in the faulty-part affair. He senses instead that Joe perhaps directed the production of the parts, or at least knew about them, and did nothing to stop their shipment.

George therefore does not participate in much of the "performance" of goodwill and friendship that others in the town, and especially in the Keller family, try to put on. George is not interested in coming back to the town he once knew. He is a lawyer now; he has moved away, and has distanced himself from his father and family, although he remains somewhat close to Ann. But George knows that the way to deal with the traumas of the war is to make plain what exactly happened and to face it directly. This is why he has returned to town—to pursue his hunch about his father's behavior, and Joe's guilt, and get to the bottom of the matter.

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Steve Deever Character Timeline in All My Sons

The timeline below shows where the character Steve Deever appears in All My Sons. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
Joe and Kate also ask after Annie’s father, Steve, and mother—there seems to have been some trouble in their relationship, and Annie tells them,... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...when he was exonerated after a re-trial (the trial which appears, also, to have sent Steve to jail), he walked home with his head held high, and although some women in... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...does not; she thinks he is a murderer, and Chris appears to agree, saying that Steve “killed” 21 American pilots in the war. Again, this fact is not explained further. (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Wealth and Its Accumulation Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...to her that she knows Larry never flew P-40s, and that the malfunction for which Steve was apparently responsible—a manufacturing error—had nothing to do with the kind of plane Larry would... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Wealth and Its Accumulation Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...to Annie what her father has done (and, simultaneously, providing the audience with more context): Steve and Joe worked together in Joe’s business (Steve was Joe’s direct subordinate), and Steve OK’d... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
Joe tells Annie that her father is not a bad man, that he just made a mistake, and that he’s no... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...still harbors a grudge against Joe for her father’s prison term, since Joe averred that Steve acted alone, without Joe’s input, in OK’ing the production of the cracked parts. This was... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Wealth and Its Accumulation Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...have nothing to do with George, and that Annie harbors no grudge against Joe for her father’s fate (in fact, she strictly blames her father), Joe appears cheered, saying he wants to... (full context)
Act 2
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Wealth and Its Accumulation Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...Jim “know” that Joe merely lied to get out of jail time and to put Steve in prison; she says she hates living next to the “Holy Family,” the Kellers, and... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Wealth and Its Accumulation Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...everyone. Annie asks Chris why he pretended that the whole town had forgotten about the Joe-Steve affair, and Chris says he was worried, at first, that Annie would find it strange... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...a lawyer job in the small town, and, additionally, could probably find a job for Steve back at Keller, Inc. Annie is surprised that Joe would want to do anything for... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Wealth and Its Accumulation Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...Jim is worried that George’s anger, which Jim believes to have to do with the Joe-Steve affair, will only cause Kate grief, and Jim is worried about Kate’s fragile state of... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...with the intention to marry Chris. This prompted remorse in George, who wanted to tell Steve of Annie’s impending marriage; thus George flew to Columbus to see Steve, where Steve told... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
George tells Annie and Chris, in the yard, that Joe ordered Steve, on the phone three years ago, to weld over the defective parts, then Joe pretended... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...and strains his “joviality” to welcome George. He asks how George is doing, and how Steve is; George says Steve seems “sick” in his soul, and that he hates Joe’s guts,... (full context)
Act 3
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...Joe over Annie, but Kate tells him, flat-out, that the argument was about George and Steve. Jim reveals that he has known, too, that Joe was responsible for the faulty parts,... (full context)
Family and Familial Obligation Theme Icon
Loss and Memory Theme Icon
War, Morality, and Consequences Theme Icon
Wealth and Its Accumulation Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...Joe away from him (to keep Joe from hearing), that Larry was aware, overseas, of Steve and Joe’s trial, and that, out of shame, Larry decided, the day after the letter,... (full context)