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Father-Son Relationships in Death of a Salesman

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Brian Dunning

on 17 December 2014

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Transcript of Father-Son Relationships in Death of a Salesman

Father-Son Relationships throughout the text:
Willy and Happy
Willy and Biff
Willy and his father
Ben and his father
Howard and Old Man Wagner
Willy and Happy
Father-Son Relationships in
Death of a Salesman

By Brian Dunning, Peter O'Donnell, and Nathan Silva
What is the significance of the father/son relationships in
Death of a Salesman

How do Willy's failed aspirations influence his dreams he has for his own children?
How does Willy's relationship with his father influence the way he fathers his children?
How do the father/son relationships in Death of a Salesman affect the expectations both the fathers and sons have for each other?
Willy and Biff
Willy and Ben's Father
Howard and Old Man Wagner
Biff does not like the competitive business world
Willy is a less than average salesman who is of no importance to his company
Willy judges his children based on their income. "But its more than ten years now and he has yet to make $35 a week."
Since Willy can not be successful he wants his children to be.
Willy believes his children can accomplish his dream by being like-able people
• Biff was everything Willy wanted in a son
• Biff needed to pass summer school to be truly successful and go to college and eventually play professional football.
• When Biff learns about the affair he loses all motivation
• Willy calls Biff lazy even though he caused this with his infidelity.

• Willy prioritized Biff over Happy
• Happy loves his father, wants to finish the dream for him
• Happy is the one to vow that his father will not have died in vain at his funeral

Was also a salesman
Left when Ben was 15, and Willy was 3
Ben acted more as a father to Willy
Ben had gone searching for their father, and had made his fortune along the way
Willy was left to work for his living
• Old Man Wagner hired Willy, thinking he had great potential
• Old Man Wagner dies, and Howard takes over with a different mindset
• Willy wants to work in the city because the trips take too much out of him
• Howard fires Willy because he believes that he does not fit the new mindset
Willy puts all his hopes for success in Biff
Biff had expected to be a supportive, faithful father figure towards him
Willy tries to dictate Biff's career towards his own idea of success
Willy's lack of a relationship with his father prevented him from knowing how to act as one
He does not teach his own children value or morals, and criticizes them when they are unsuccessful
Tension is created because of this between Willy and Biff. Happy is still overlooked, but is still seen as a disappointment
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