In Act I of Death of a Salesman, what do we learn about the relationship between Willy and his brother Ben and how it relates to Willy and change?Please give examples in the text.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We know that, after Willy's father abandoned his family, Ben (who was much older than Willy) was in charge of the household for a while, and did plenty of traveling trying to find their father. However, he found a chance to make riches in Alaska and all over the world. Therefore, he left the house and Willy as well, and actually became very rich in the wood industry. Several times he approached Willy to enter his business, but Willy was in the lookout for quick and easy money. After seeing how easily Dave Singleton made his fortune as a salesman, Willy emulated the example and went for that career.

This relates to Willy's changes in that we can see a pattern of behavior in Willy's family especially the males: They have a tendency to run away; to escape. However, we also learn that Ben has always loomed above Willy like a shadow of remembrance of what could have become of Willy if Willy had only followed the correct dream, and not the dream of Dave Singleton.

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Death of a Salesman

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