Death of a Salesman

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Compare and contrast Biff and Happy as Willy's sons. How do they reflect or reject Willy's philosophies? Willy Loman is a salesman with a fragile grip on reality. All his life he has strived for his version of the American dream –being "well liked" and making money– to the point where he is forced to deny reality in order to achieve it. His mind is full of delusions about his own abilities and accomplishments, and the accomplishments of his sons– Biff and Happy. Biff, the eldest son, admires his father's drive and "notoriety". He believes in his father's dreams and aspirations until he finds out he is having an affair. Learning this destroys Biff's image of his father and he rejects his philosophies while labeling him "a phony little fake!" However, even though he despises his father and what he represents he still ends up living a similar delusional life, exaggerating and manipulating reality in his favor. Happy doesn't doubt his father's dreams; they have been instilled in his mind and have become his own. He, unlike Biff, has a steady job and works as an assistant to the assistant buyer, but yet still he refers to himself as the assistant buyer because he feels that status defines a man, as his father always referred to making money and being on top. Both Biff and Happy adopt Willy's habit of denying or manipulating reality and practice it all their lives. At Willy's funeral though, Biff realizes that his father had all the wrong dreams, and that he, just like his father, had fooled himself into thinking he was someone other than himself. He decides to start a "new" life and invites Happy to come along with him. Happy disagrees with him, and insists that his father's dream was the only dream a man can have and that he would be the one to fulfill it now that his father is gone.
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