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Death of a Salesman: Willy Lomez

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In Arthur Miller's, Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is a man that many people struggling with identity issues can relate to. The inability to live his life in the present, and the need to dwell in an imaginary state of mind, begins the deterioration of his mental stability and his ability to distinguish between realities and make believe. Being unsatisfied in his career choice and his distorted belief of what the "American Dream" consists of demonstrates the powerful effect societal views play on an entire family. As Thomas Porter states," Willy the salesman represents all those Americans caught in the mesh of the myth and the moral pressures it generates." (Porter 115). His lack of understanding the importance of having a career doing what you enjoy as opposed to doing what "might" make you rich, drastically affects his family members. As Paul Blumberg states, "Willy is lonely and broken, considering his failed years in business as a wasted life." (Blumberg 120). Thus Willy, as the head of the Loman household, imprinted his dysfunctional view of life on his wife, Linda, their eldest son, Biff, and their youngest son, Happy.

Linda, Willy's wife, seems to take most of the anguish in the family. She has become the peacemaker in the home. She loves her boys but her sense of loyalty to her husband often leaves her choosing Willy over her boys. Linda Loman seems to want the "American Dream" just like her husband but instead of supporting Willy in a constructive way she enables him to remain in the fantasy of what he thinks their life consists of. She is always pushed away and her opinion is not valued. She is not treated, as a wife should be. She does not show her pain on the outside but it is obvious that it lingers inside of her. She lives in fear of the thought that Willy will leave her and being that she is uneducated and has minimal skills outside of being a homemaker, she is paralyzed by her life. As Thomas E. Porter states, "Willy Loman does not give his wife nearly enough attention that many wives obtain from their husbands." (Porter111). Linda accepts her position as the last person to be "heard" or "considered" in the daily activities in her family's home. By avoiding the truth and continuing on a day-to-day basis as if suddenly everything will be fine she exhibits traits like those of her husband. Willy engages Linda in conversations about his work "adventures" yet pushes her away if she tries to suggest a different approach. She struggles with pain and loneliness because she wants to avoid the conflict that occurs between her husband and children. Daily peace is not a matter of what she is able to feel inside her soul but rather a matter of what she can do to make her family members at ease. She has isolated herself from the truth She has become so attached to what life "should be" that she is missing the reality of what her life has become. Her feelings about herself are damaged. She accepts the demeaning attention she receives as a wife, instead of seeing her on value as a woman. Linda's actions speak louder than her words. She unintentionally teaches her boys how to treat women as they want to, instead of valuing them, as they should. In the end, Linda talks to Willy at his grave as if he were going on another business trip. She does not understand how he could have killed himself. She doesn't shed any tears. It appears her emotions died long before the death of her husband.

Biff Loman, Willy's eldest son, was a popular high school football star. He had a great opportunity for a scholarship to a major University because of his talent in football but could not keep his grades up. His disregard for his studies lost him the chance to escape his father's lifestyle. Because of his failures in school and his father's lack of discipline towards him, he wasn't taught to be accountable for his decisions. After finding out he failed his Math class he went to find his father, who was out of town, and ask him to talk to his Math teacher hoping his father would "fix" the issue. He walked in on his father with another woman and the reality of his dad being a "fake" angered him so mush that he left home and headed West in search of proving himself outside of his fathers grip. This "escape" from reality only caused Biff to further mask the uncertainty of his life. He ended up in jail for three months for stealing and never told his family. Biff allowed his Willy to think he was being punished because of Willy's betrayal to his mother. Although Biff wanted to please his dad by getting a good job he could not keep a job for lack of confidence and the "need" to steal. Biff had commitment issues, including having a faithful relationship with a girl. As Galens states, "In the novel Willy shows not near enough attention to his kids. That is why it seems they act out so much." (Galens68). His "need" to steal things had lost him several jobs as well as the trust from others in his life and only added to his lack of integrity towards himself. Biff feels that he cannot reach his dads expectations on him. When Linda tells Biff that his father has attempted suicide three times, Biff chooses to stay and home and talk to Willy's old boss, whom his father says will guarantee him a job. Although Biff does not want to live out the false life that his father has lived, he does not want to abandon his mother either. He has seen how much stress had been put on his family. Biff seems more aware the stress caused by his fathers desire to live up to what he thought society wanted as opposed to what made him happy. Biff had felt what it was like to use your hands as a trade and enjoy what you do instead of doing what you hate to



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