Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Analysis of Chunk 2

Willy is constantly sending his sons mixed messages about life and success. At the same time Willy congratulates Biff for stealing the football, he tells him that stealing never gets you anywhere. "I never in my life told him anything but decent things!" yells Willy. Biff is confused, and understandably so. Willy tells Bernard to give Biff the answers for the Regents. Willy is blind to the source of his family's problems. He says, "Why is he taking everything?"

Biff is the son Willy focuses on the most, and Hap is always trying to get his father's attention. Throughout this section, Hap keeps repeating, "I'm loosing weight, you notice, Pop?" knowing that Willy should congratulate him for his appearance.

This chunk reveals one of the core problems of Willy's character that will eventually lead to his tragic fall. Willy believes, falsely, that all it takes to get ahead in the world is to be well liked. He tells his sons, "Be liked and you will never want… Take me, for instance… 'Willy Loman is here!' That's all it takes, and I go right through." Willy is also lying to himself.

In reality, Willy is not well liked, and he has a very hard time selling. He tells Linda, "The trouble is, Linda, people don't seem to take to me." Nonetheless, Willy still inflates his image for his sons and himself. Appearance is so important to Willy he tells his sons, "That's why I thank Almighty God you're both built like Adonises." In the Loman household, that is the key to the high country: be well liked, look good.