Relationships… well enough said, they’re confusing. Each relationship has its own parameters, its own ‘rules’ (if you call them that), and its own roles (no persons are the same). In All my Sons we see many different types of relationships, romantic, friendships and parent-child. Two pairing that mirror each other in terms of values are, Jim & Sue Bayliss and Chris & Joe Keller. The theme of money and greed is prevalent in the entire play, and that doesn’t exclude these relationships.
Dr. Jim and Mrs. Sue Bayliss are married neighbors of the Kellers. Dr. Keller is a family physician but he wants to pursue a different dream. He wants to be a researcher and lab worker, and if not for his nagging wife he probably would be. Now I don’t want to make Sue seem like a crazy, controlling wife, she’s just concerned about the over-all well being of her family. Dr. Jim is the bread-winner for the family and if he changed careers, he’s take a major pay-cut. He would end up making only about $25 a week, which even back then isn’t a lot. Jim doesn’t see it like that though, he sees the good this job could do, and how it could help the whole. His loving wife though, is really apprehensive about how there will be food on the table. She is in, my opinion, being realistic, even if it comes across as money hungry.
It is no secret that Joe has a hunger in his eyes for money. He sees money and it doesn’t matter to him how he gets it, just that it lands in his bank account. He’ll slit he’s good friend’s throat if that’s what it takes. But Chris, like Jim, doesn’t see it like that, he doesn’t see dollar signs he sees people and feelings. Joe, much like Sue, is obsessed with providing for his family. He is fixated on creating a net-worth for his son, even though Chris has no interest in his father’s dirty money.
These two relationships have such similar conflicts within them. Both have a person with money on the brain, and a person who could care less about it. This conflict though holds one person in the relationship back from their dream. Dr. Bayliss never (to our knowledge) becomes a researcher. On the opposite Joe is never able to hand his factory down to his son. No matter what we swing this, when the people in relationships don’t have the same basic beliefs, the relationship can’t be successful on the deepest level.