During the war, Joe Keller and Herbert Deever ran a machine shop producing aeroplane parts. Deever was sent to prison because the firm turned out defective parts, causing the deaths of many men. Keller was arrested and jailed for a period, but at the trial he was found not guilty and released. He returned and re-opened the plant generating a large profit for himself. The twin shadows of this catastrophe, and the fact that the young Keller son was reported missing during the war, dominate the action. The climax of the play shows the reactions of a son to his guilty father and is a fitting conclusion to a play which is electrifying in its intensity.