December 3, 2012
Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman, the Overbearing Father
The Loman way, was it the hard way or the correct way? In Death of a Salesman, the main character, Willy Loman is a traveling salesman and is living his own version of the American Dream. He travels the northeast region of America, through numerous towns and hotels to support his family. His wife Linda and his two sons, Biff and Harold aka Happy, live in their home in Brooklyn, New York that is nearly paid off. Throughout the movie, Death of a Salesman ,[ Volker Schlöndorff,1986] and the play that I read (Literature, A Portable Anthology, 2nd Edition, pg. 1026 – 1104), my observation was that Willy was tired, unhappy, and felt like a failure. In Jacobson’s article, he says “What Loman wants, and what success means in Death of a Salesman, is intimately related to his own, and the playwright’s sense of the family. Family dreams extend backward in time to interpret the past, reach forward in time to project images of the future, and pressure reality in the present to conform to memory and imagination. These “ideals,” these dreams, can be examined in terms of four variables: transformation, prominence, synthesis, and unity.” (Jacobson, 248.) His main concern was his son Biff’s future. Two things I have noticed were that Willy Loman had high expectations for his son and was an overbearing father to Biff Loman. Willy Loman was at the end of an approximately 34 year long career. He had begun to see himself as a failure and he started having delusions. What is the meaning to the story: 1) Do we work hard to support our family and force our expectations on our children? 2) Do we work hard to support our family and then give our children freedom to choose their own futures without guidance? 3) Or do we help them achieve health, happiness, and success by encouraging pursuit of their dreams? Willy Loman was a traveling salesman and he was living the American Dream, travelling between New York and Boston. He had a good wife, Linda who helped him raise two charming and athletic sons. He worked for a company for 34 years passing up other opportunities in the expectation of being the top salesman. In the article I read by Carson and Carson it describes how being entrenched in a position is a good source for disillusionment. They state, “Out of desperation, many employees stay with the organizations in which their careers have unfolded, but do not stay committed to them in the way management would like.” (Carson and Carson, 62.) One opportunity he passed up was to travel with his brother Ben to Africa to mine diamonds. His career allowed him to purchase a home which had only one payment left. As he grew older it became harder for him to meet the quotas of supporting his now adult sons and paying his bills. Being a salesman gives you too much liberty. Being out of the office and not going to a set place each day is a disconcerting way of life. The story begins with Willy on a trip to Boston where he never reaches his destination and turns around in Yonkers to go back to Brooklyn. When he gets home his wife convinces him to speak to his boss Harold Wagner. When he started with the company it was Harold’s father who was his boss. Willy actually helped Harold’s father name him and now Harold is his boss. Linda wants Willy to request a stationery sales position and stop traveling. He brings up the issue with Harold but Harold doesn’t acknowledge hi m at first and then steps out of the office. Indeed, when Harold comes back to the office he tells Willy that he is terminated and to return the company’s sales cases to the office. Willy repeats himself and asks for $40 a week without even acknowledging the fact that he was fired. Harold tells him just bring back the company’s sales cases, take some time off, and when you get better, you can come back and we talk about it. Willy Loman is shocked and...