Setting: USA, the Second World War has ended. Late 1940s.
Joe Keller is a successful, middle aged, self made man. His sons Chris and Larry went to fight in the second world war. Chris comes home, but Larry is missing. Kate, Joe´s wife, believes he is still alive.
He has a manufacturing plant with his friend Steve Deever.
The manufacturing plant during the war makes bombs for the government.
They ship defective parts out to the front line, which blow up before time and make 21 planes crash, killing innocent soldiers.
Steve and Joe are arrested for this, but Joe Keller lies, blames everything on Steve and does not go to prison.
Steve goes to prison.
IMPORTANT: According to the audience, all of these events happened in the past. The play´s action starts now, three years after all of this happened. The audience does not know the truth about the above until the climax of the play.
Joe is chatting with neighbours in the back garden. His wife, Kate, still believes her son, Larry, who is missing, is alive.
Chris is about to marry Steve Deever´s daughter, Ann – who is also Larry (his brother´s) ex girlfriend.
Ann turns up, Chris asks her to marry him. She says yes. Kate is very upset. George (Anns brother and now a lawyer) turns up and accuses Joe. Ann tells Kate Larry is dead because she received a letter from him.
Joe admits the truth to Chris. Chris refuses to forgive him. Joe realises what he has done and shoots himself.