Death of a Salesman; Willy vs. Charley Essay

1269 Words Mar 1st, 2011 6 Pages
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
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However, Happy is still Willy’s son, and is therefore struggling to make a successful life for himself because he was not raised properly. He was not told to study hard in school and focus on his grades, instead he was told to be more like his brother, who was failing math, yet was school hotshot.
Charley, Bernard’s father, had opposite ideas when it came to raising Bernard. Charley did not pay attention to anything that Bernard did, nor did he brag about his son to Willy as Willy did to Charley. Charley stayed completely out of Bernard’s life, which would probably explain why Bernard was so nerdy and unpopular in high school. Despite the fact Bernard was not well liked, he still grew up to be majorly successful. Toward the end of the book, Willy runs into Bernard in Charley’s office. After catching up with Bernard about Bernard’s job as a lawyer and his wife and kids, Willy starts to break down in realization that Bernard is successful and Biff is not:
What-what’s the secret? ...How-how did you? Why didn’t he ever catch on? ...You were his friend, his boyhood friend. There’s something I don’t understand about it. His life ended after that Ebbets Field game. From the age of seventeen nothing good ever happened to him…Bernard, Bernard was it my fault? Y’see? It keeps going around in my mind, maybe I did something to him. I got nothing to give him.

This is the first real time that Willy questions himself to blame for Biffs’ failure. When Charley

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