Because He's Only a Little Boat Looking for a Harbor

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As Willy begins to rise from his depression with high hopes for himself and Biff, Linda continues to hope that Willy will soon find his harbor, a place where he feels fulfilled and accomplished in a tangible way, however, despite her high hopes Willy will never truly arrive at his harbor because, in his old age, it is too late for Willy to create something he can lay his hand on. Although it is clear that one of Willy’s core needs include being well-liked, on a deeper level, Willy dreams to find accomplishment and to be someone his sons can be proud of. Linda supports this dream because she worries that Willy will not be able find peace until he arrives at his harbor. Linda “trembl[es] with sorrow and joy” at the thought of Willy finally being able to arrive in his harbor by getting a New York job, something he can be proud of and physically grasp. Her paradoxical emotional response echoes the uncertainty yet hopefulness that Willy feels as he seeks to gain this promotion, as it is apparent that Willy is on his last legs. At first even Willy believe that “if a man is building something he must be on the right track,” but it soon becomes evident that building is not enough. Willy has spent his entire life building up his career, his relationships, and his sons, but at the end of the day, Willy had nearly built castles in the air and has nothing substantial to show for it. His brother Ben reveals this to Willy as he asks to “lay his had on [his accomplishments]” and Willy cannot. In his darkest (or greatest) moment in the garden, seeds represent tangible wealth to Willy just has diamonds represented tangible success to Ben, and the standard Willy has based his life upon. Despite Linda’s hopes, Willy will never arrive at his harbor because he can only truly find peace with something that he can lay his hand on, something it is to late to achieve.
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