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Who is Bill Oliver, and what does Biff hope to get from him?

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koka76 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:09 AM via web

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Who is Bill Oliver, and what does Biff hope to get from him?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:38 AM (Answer #1)

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In the play Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, the character of Bill Oliver is an old supervisor for whom Willy Loman's son, Biff, used to work.

As part of the Lomans' tendency to imagine situations that they, later on, believe to be real, Biff lives under the assumption that he is Bill Oliver's best employee and that, in fact, he is a type of partner of Bill Oliver's business.

This is why Biff goes to Bill Oliver to ask him for a loan of $10,000 that would be put towards a down payment for Biff and his brother, Happy, to start a business together. However, during the restaurant scene of the play, we encounter Happy and Biff discussing that Bill Oliver does not even remember Biff when he sees him.

This is the moment when Biff realizes that his life has been a foolish illusion. This is also the moment when he feels it is time to stop the fantasy under which the Lomans continue to live and he decides to confront Willy with the truth about it all.

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