Themes in All Our Children

Power

A major theme is the abuse of power by the State to arbitrarily impose its will on a population and to determine which individuals have moral value and which do not. In the play, the question of who lives and who dies is dictated by an immoral measure of human worth subject to the whim of those in power that serves as a license to kill those deemed disposable or “unworthy of life.”

Lies and Deceit

The Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote, “Violence does not and cannot flourish by itself; it is inevitably intertwined with lying.” The Nazi regime achieved and maintained its power through lies and propaganda. Self-deception allows Doctor Franz to continue his complicity with evil in the face of all that he used to hold sacred, but it takes a physical and psychological toll.

Courage and Conscience

Several characters face a moral choice: remain silent in the face of state-sponsored evil or find the courage to confront those in power, jeopardizing their reputations and possibly their lives.  Both von Galen and, ultimately, Dr. Franz risk everything to stand up to the State and speak truth to power.

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