All My Sons

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Dry Socks Symbol Icon
In a conversation with Annie at the close of Act 1, Chris recounts a brief story of a GI in the war who offered Chris his last pair of dry socks. Chris views this gesture, and these socks, as indicative of the kind of care and brotherhood soldiers showed to one another in battle, and Chris rues the idea that this brotherhood is now lost in post-war, materialist culture. Chris’s dry socks, like the tree, are also a complex symbol. To Chris, the dry socks are an uncomplicated way of representing camaraderie in battle. But it is clear, in the context of the play, that Chris wishes all moral decisions in peacetime resembled the moral clarity the socks represent. Working in the family business, and coping with his father’s guilt in the manufacturing fiasco, are not so simple as this act of kindness and charity, and Chris bemoans the fact that, in his adult life, he must confront a moral universe far more complicated, far less black-and-white, than the one in which he took solace during combat.

Dry Socks Quotes in All My Sons

The All My Sons quotes below all refer to the symbol of Dry Socks. 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

. . . one time it’d been raining several days and this kid came to me, and gave me his last pair of dry socks. Put them in my pocket. That’s only a little thing—but . . . that’s the kind of guys I had. They didn’t die; they killed themselves for each other . . . .

Related Characters: Chris Keller (speaker)
Related Symbols: Dry Socks
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

Chris's memory of a boy giving him a pair of dry socks is perhaps his lasting image of the war. For Chris, it contains both the brutality of battle—the fact that dry socks were at a premium in war-time—and the possibility of human generosity even during terrible circumstances. Chris seems to believe that the brotherhood of men at war was a real feeling, something he can hold onto even in the tragic aftermath of that conflict. That is why the image has remained so intensely in his mind—it is an indicator of the good that can come of a difficult, trying, and even traumatic circumstance.

Chris brings up this memory because he is trying, in his way, to wrestle with the demons of his past—his guilt, for example, over surviving the war while his brother Larry was killed. Chris knows that war can tear people apart, so he tries, in conjuring this image, to remind himself that war can also forge friendship and trust. 


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Dry Socks Symbol Timeline in All My Sons

The timeline below shows where the symbol Dry Socks 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
Wealth and Its Accumulation Theme Icon
Liability, Culpability, and Guilt Theme Icon
...young soldier, in the war, who lent him his (the soldier’s) only remaining pair of dry socks ; this kind of brotherhood, Chris says, was commonplace in the war, but now, he... (full context)