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In Act II of Death of a Salesman, in the restaurant, how does Happy reflect Willy's...

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shethatgirrl | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted August 22, 2013 at 6:27 PM via web

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In Act II of Death of a Salesman, in the restaurant, how does Happy reflect Willy's values?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted August 23, 2013 at 8:50 PM (Answer #1)

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Happy shows himself to be quite like Willy in his interaction with Stanley the waiter and the glamorous customer Miss Forsythe in the restaurant. Like Willy, he tries to impress people by talking up his own and his family's achievements - in fact he resorts to downright lying. He pretends to be selling champagne, falsely claims to have attended West Point, and also embellishes his brother Biff's career, making him out to be a 'big cattle man' whereas we have learnt that Biff has only done casual work on farms and made hardly any money. Happy also pretends to Miss Forsythe that Biff is a major football player. 

Like Willy, Happy believes in keeping up appearances, relying on a show of friendliness and charm to win over other people and to make them believe he is a huge success, whereas he is really struggling to make his way in the world. Biff eventually rebels against Willy's influence and discards the pretence, but Happy persists in Willy's way of thinking. He states grandly at Willy's funeral that he will take up his father's dream:

It's the only dream you can have  - to be number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I'm gonna win it for him. (Requiem) 

To the end, then, Happy remains deluded as his father was, entertaining vain hopes of wealth, popularity and success, of being 'number-one man'. 

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