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How can I use this excerpt to write a character study of Willy? I need to explain how...

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user6531517 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 14, 2013 at 1:53 AM via web

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How can I use this excerpt to write a character study of Willy? I need to explain how this excerpt informs us about Willy and his functional significance.

My prompt says to refer to other parts of the play — outside this excerpt — that support my argument.

WILLY: How can he find himself on a farm? Is that a life? A farmhand? In the beginning, when he was young, I thought, well, a young man, it's good for him to tramp around, take a lot of different jobs. But it's more than ten years now and he has yet to make thirty-five dollars a week!
LINDA: He's finding himself, Willy.
WILLY: Not finding yourself at the age of thirty-four is a disgrace!
LINDA: Shh!
WILLY: The trouble is he's lazy, goddammit!
LINDA: Willy, please!
WILLY: Biff is a lazy bum!
LINDA: They're sleeping. Get something to eat. Go on down.
WILLY: Why did he come home? I would like to know what brought him home.
LINDA: I don't know. I think he's still lost, Willy. I think he's very lost.
WILLY: Biff Loman is lost. In the greatest country in the world a young man with such — personal attractiveness, gets lost. And such a hard worker. There's one thing about Biff — he's not lazy.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 14, 2013 at 8:42 AM (Answer #1)

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In this excerpt we see that Willy tends to get angry quite quickly. This is borne out later in the play, towards the close of both Act I and Act II, when he flies into a rage with Biff and they have an out-and-out quarrel. As this excerpt also shows, he is particularly touchy on the subject of Biff, as Biff was the son on whom he pinned all his hopes, and he is extremely disappointed that Biff has not been able to make a great career for himself, just like Willy himself. Biff and Willy's stormy relationship is the central one of the play. From this excerpt we also see that Willy contradics himself, first blaming Biff for being lazy and then saying that he's not lazy. We see from this that Willy tends to talk more emotionally than rationally. He changes his opinions frequently - for instance, about the Chevy, and later in Act I he changes the advice he's giving Biff on how to approach Bill Oliver, in just a few lines.

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