Death of a Salesman – Biff

Death of a Salesman – Biff

In the play Death of a Salesman, Biff Loman is the oldest son of Willy Loman, the namesake salesman. When he was younger, Biff had a good relationship with his father. Though Willy was not the ideal father, Biff idolized him, and Willy basked in Biffs admiration. Later on in life, though, Biff and his father have an unhealthy relationship. They do not communicate except to often argue. Willy thinks that Biff is a lazy good for nothing, while Biff objects to the way that his father treats his mother and cant stand it when Willy gets lost in the past and talks to himself.

Though we find out later in the book some of the reasons for this change in their relationship, Biff reveals a lot about the relationship with the one line, Ive always made a point of not wasting my life, and everytime I come back here I know that all Ive done is to waste my life. The point of this line is not that Biff actually wasted his life; indeed, in the precluding paragraph he talks about how much he enjoys the work that he does on the farms out west. Though he doesnt make much, it is fulfilling to him, and work he enjoys.

However, he is unable to truly enjoy it because of his fathers attitude. Willy has been a salesman all his life, and thinks that a truly respectable job is one like his, with set hours, where people wear suits and ties and sit in their offices. Though Biff enjoys what he is doing, it is not steady or respectable labor, and to Willy that makes it intolerable. The point of this line is to show that in truth, Willy is the whole reason that Biff is not happy with his life. Thoreau said, The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind.

To Willy, that one kind is not Biffs kind. When Biff is away from home, he is happy with what he is doing, until he realizes that he is not planning for the future that is considered okay by his father. When Biff realizes this, he runs home, to the very person that only furthers his feelings of inadequacy and failure. This line goes deep into Biff, to explain his reasons for not settling down, or raising a family, or finding a respectable job. One part of him is still the little boy that wants to do anything to please Willy; the other part will do anything to rebel against him.

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Death of a Salesman - Biff. (2019, Feb 04). Retrieved January 24, 2020, from