What is the importance of Dave Singleman in Death of a Salesman?

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Dave Singleman was part of the reason that Willy did not follow his brother out to the lucrative gold fields of Alaska. Dave Singleman was a salesman in his eighties, well respected and successful. This was a very attractive future to Willy, and he was mesmerised with the promise of comfort and recognition that Dave Singleman’s career exemplified –

 WILLY:…I realised that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ’Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people?

 

Willy was impressed also with the recognition Dave Singleman received after death, as ‘hundreds’ of buyers and salesman from all over the country attended his funeral.

There is also poignancy in that the title of the play is taken from the passing of Dave Singleman, and shows how Willy would have liked to have passed-

 WILLY: …and by the way he died the death of a salesman, in his green velvet slippers in the smoker of the New York, New Haven and Hartford...

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