Family Issues In The Play Death Of A Salesman

1206 words - 5 pages

The play, Death of a Salesman, is a tragic drama about an aging salesman who tries to do all he can to support his family and make them lead successful lives. The struggling salesman, Willy Loman has two sons, Biff and Happy, whom he tries to drive towards success. Willy believes that being well liked and making a good and lasting impression are the keys to success and tries to teach this philosophy to his two sons. Biff, being the favorite son of Willy, has worked as a manual laborer and Willy believes that Biff can do so much more with his life. While Biff is happy, he does not meet Willy’s criteria for success. Biff is unable to fulfill Willy’s dream because Willy’s idea of success is not a life Biff wants to pursue.
Biff Loman, a highly successful high school football player, was supposedly meant for great things after high school. However, Biff failed to graduate from high school due to failing a mathematics class, and also did not complete the class during summer school, because of the discussion he had with his father. The discussion was one that was eye-opening, as Biff learned that his father was unfaithful to his mother, “You—you gave her Mama’s stockings…don’t touch me, you—liar...You fake! You phony little fake! You fake!“ (95). This is the moment in the play where Biff lost all respect for his father. Due to not graduating, he lost his athletic scholarship to the University of Virginia. Since then, Biff has been working blue-collar jobs in the west while not making over thirty-five dollars a week. He is happy there but realizes that there is not much future in that line of work and ends up returning home without a job.
Willy cannot understand how everything could have gone so wrong for Biff. Willy has always been under the impression that Biff was going to turn out to be a huge success. He thought Biff would end up going to college and work in a management type job, Willy says, “Sure. Certain men just don’t get started till later in life. Like Thomas Edison, I think. Or B.F. Goodrich. One of them was deaf. I’ll put my money on Biff” (31). This shows that Willy is so determined in believing that Biff will become successful that he never gives up. What Willy doesn’t get is that Biff does not want to work in an office job. Biff says, “To suffer fifty weeks of they year for the sake of a two week vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors with your shirt off” (11). This means that Biff has a passion for working with his hands rather than handling papers at some desk job.
As the play goes on, Willy starts to lose his mind; this can be seen by the many contradictions he makes. For example, in one scene, he mentions that Chevrolet is “the greatest car ever built,” only to later say in another scene that “they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car” (31). As he loses touch with himself, other things in his life start to go wrong also. He is unable to bring in enough money; he gets fired from his job, and he acts very...

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