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In Act 2 of Death of a Salesman what does Ben by, "Not like an appointment at...

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lagrafx | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:05 AM via web

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In Act 2 of Death of a Salesman what does Ben by, "Not like an appointment at all.  A diamond is rough and hard to the touch"?

 I'm sure there's some deeper meaning to what Ben says here, unfortunately I'm not catching on as to what he means here as he continues to use the parallel of 'going into the jungle, and coming out with diamonds' along side the act of going into a big city, and finding success.

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 10, 2009 at 4:59 AM (Answer #1)

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Ben implies that an appointment is something intangible, unlike a diamond, which is something one can hold in his hand. Willy's career as a salesman is built on appointments, a routine type of business but based on uncertainties because he is never assured of success. Ben, on the other hand, made his wealth by accepting the challenge of going into the jungle and seeking diamonds, truly a symbol of success. Ben is critical of Willy because Ben has little respect for the kind of career path Willy has chosen instead of selecting to follow Ben into the jungle. Willy, as a result, has not become successful or wealthy.

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 10, 2009 at 6:34 AM (Answer #2)

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I would just add that diamonds have real value, no matter who handles them; you don't have to "add" value to make them worth something.  The "appointment" represents Willie's belief that success in life comes from "personal attractiveness."  All of us have been to MANY appointments that started with no value and ended with no value added.  Willie believes that "personal attractiveness" can create value, and it certainly can.  But it has none of the certainty of the diamonds that Ben brought out of the jungle. 

As an afterthought, has anyone ever had any thoughts about the reality of Ben?

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