The “American dream” seems to play a monumental role in distinguishing what is essential to be successful. Joe Keller believes that his son, Chris, deserves the business he built from the ground, up and does absolutely everything in his power to ensure that Chris will obtain Joe’s business. In Joe’s eyes, risking the lives of soldiers, making an abomination out of his former “best friend”, and separating a family in order to keep his business running smoothly is deemed more worthy than doing the right thing. Joe feels that he has done the right thing because he carried out these actions for his family.
Willy Loman’s interpretation of the “American dream” is a tad bit more extravagant; Willy believes that the key to success is a matter of whether a person is well-liked or not. Throughout the course of his professional career as a salesman, Willy constantly concocts lies stating how he is well-liked all over the Northeast, as well as his weekly salary. Willy also tried to bring the dream upon his son Biff. While Willy’s son Biff was a student in high school, Willy continuously fed Biff these fantasies that one day, Biff would become a great football player. Willy preferred brawn over brains in Biff. Willy was unable to live the American dream and thus ventured on through Biff vicariously. When Biff decided not to finish summer school and then explore new endeavors out west, Willy began to grow furious with Biff because he was unable to hover over Biff and “lead” him toward success.
In All of My Sons, Joe Keller is unable to perceive reality with his involvement in the busted airplane heads which led to the death of twenty-one soldiers of the Air Force. We the readers notice that the lie Joe tells to others has been so commonly practiced that it’s no longer a fabrication of Joe’s imagination, but in his opinion, the genuine truth. Joe becomes obsessive over Chris inheritance of Joe’s business and it seems as though he does this so that in the event that someone reveals the truth to Chris, there is no possible way that Chris could be ashamed after what his father did for him. Unfortunately for Joe, the truth is revealed too soon and Chris no longer is willing to follow in his father’s “murderous” footsteps; instead Chris is enraged by his father’s past actions and vows to either turn his father in or kill him.
Willy Loman is beaten down by his failure of him and his son to live up to his expectations. Unlike Joe, Willy’s altered perception of reality conflicts with his everyday life. He is over exhausted and constantly has flashbacks which deceive Willy’s perception of reality. His flashbacks usually consist of Willy’s overbearing confidence in Biff’s future. Willy also has flashbacks where his successful brother shows up. To stack himself up against his brother’s success, Willy lies about how his business is prospering and how he nearly at the top of the metaphorical food chain in the sales world. In reality however, Willy is a struggling business man who barely makes ends meet. He needs to ask his friend Charley for money just to pay bills and make it seem like he is still making money so he is not a failure in the eyes of others. Willy resorts to these flashbacks when he faces adversity or when things are no longer in his control.