Death of a Salesman; Willy vs. Charley

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Kristina Zagame
October 24, 2010
B Block English
Willy vs. Charley: The Impact of Parent Relations

A person’s outcome in life is often a reflection of their childhood, or how they grew up. The different ways a child is treated by their parents may later affect the amount of grit he or she has, therefore affecting their later success in life. In the book Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Biff, Happy and Bernard each grew up in different ways. Although Biff and Happy grew up in the same home, their father, Willy Loman, treated the boys differently, and therefore their views on life as adults turned out slightly dissimilar. Willy and Charley’s relationships with their sons contradict each other and therefore affected their son’s future successes in different ways.

Willy Loman loved his son, Biff, more than anything in the world. As Biff grew up, Willy constantly praised him and treated him as if he was the greatest boy who’d ever lived. Because of this, Biff did not think he would have to try hard to become successful. Biff was failing math because he was too preoccupied with football. Bernard, the Loman’s neighbor, was very intelligent, but not popular. Bernard gave Biff most of the answers the entire year, and offered to help Biff with his math. Biff was not too concerned with seeking Bernard’s help simply because Willy does not make it seem important. When Bernard first tells Willy that Biff is at risk of failing, Willy denies the idea immediately: “What’re you talking about? With scholarships to three universities they’re gonna flunk him? Don’t be a pest, Bernard!” Willy also gives the advice most parents would never be okay with: Bernard: “Where is he? If he doesn’t study!” Willy: “You’ll give him the answers!” Willy refuses to see the flaws in Biff because to Willy, being well liked is being successful: Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be...
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