In Death of a Salesman, Happy says several times, "I'm losing weight, you notice, Pop?" Which American myth is he bringing up here?

In Death of a Salesman, when Happy tells his father that he is losing weight, he is bringing up the American myth that a person's outward appearance indicates their level of success and social status.

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Happy subscribes to his father's belief that appearance and personality are the essential aspects necessary to have success in the business world. As a delusional, conflicted salesman, Willy Loman genuinely believes that being well-liked and admired by others is the key to success. Instead of raising Biff and Happy to...

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Happy subscribes to his father's belief that appearance and personality are the essential aspects necessary to have success in the business world. As a delusional, conflicted salesman, Willy Loman genuinely believes that being well-liked and admired by others is the key to success. Instead of raising Biff and Happy to be dedicated, hard-working individuals, Willy teaches them the importance of being attractive and popular. It is also evident that Willy favors Biff, who is more athletic and physically impressive than his younger brother. Happy looks up to Biff and wants to gain his father's attention by mentioning that he is in shape and losing weight.
Happy is fishing for a compliment, and his comment illustrates the American myth that a person's outward appearance indicates their level of success. American culture values superficial elements like appearance and beauty, which are associated with a person's social status. Happy recognizes that his father values personal appearance and hopes to gain his admiration and respect by showing Willy that he has lost weight. Unfortunately, Happy does not understand that personal appearance does not equate to success in the business world and outward beauty can only get a person so far. Even as an adult, Happy subscribes to the American myth glorifying permanent youth and believes that a person's appearance indicates their level of success and social status.
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In Willy Loman's world it's not what you are, but what people think you are that counts. For him, being a "well-liked man" is everything. And if you're going to be a well-liked man, you need to look the part. That means taking good care of your personal appearance, including your weight. That's why Happy's so keen to let his old man know that he's losing weight; he wants Willy to be proud of him.

Willy plays along with all this, because he lives in a world of fantasy and delusion, which to some extent has rubbed off on his sons. In truth, Happy's best days are well and truly behind him, just like Willy's. But far from confronting the truth, he feeds his father's delusions, hoping that somehow they will keep him from losing hope. By maintaining the facade of success he thinks he's doing his old man a favor, when in actual fact, he's simply making things worse.

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During one of Willy's hallucinations, he reminisces on a time when Biff and Happy were adolescents. Willy clearly shows more interest in his older, more athletic son, Biff, than he does Happy. Willy continually comments on Biff's athletic abilities and is proud of his son's imposing physique. Happy is overshadowed by Biff in virtually every aspect of life during their adolescence and continually asks his father if he notices that he is losing weight. Happy's comments regarding his weight loss reveal the common American myth that physical fitness is directly associated with success. American culture emphasizes the importance of outward appearance, and many Americans tend to respect and admire physically fit individuals simply because they are attractive. Happy desires to be revered and respected like his brother Biff and believes that Willy will admire and comment on his weight loss. Instead of focusing on developing internal qualities like hard work and dedication, Happy is solely focused on his outward appearance, which is superficial and is not associated with success in the business world.

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Happy is perpetuating the myth that a successful business person must not be overweight and must look physically fit. At one point Happy brags to Biff that he "can outbox, outrun, and outlift anybody in that store." However, Happy says many things that he later contradicts, and viewers understand that much of his bragging is pure fantasy. Happy's assurances to his father that he is losing weight are meant to help Willy have faith that Happy will be successful in business.

Willy himself is still trying to figure out the formula for being a successful salesman after all the years he has spent in his career. As he speaks to Linda, he confides that "people don't seem to take to me." He believes people he meets while on his sales calls are laughing at him. He first suggests it is because he talks too much or tells too many jokes. Then he states, "I'm fat." He relates an incident where he heard another salesman call him a "walrus." Willy says he "cracked him right across the face." Willy was upset by the remark because it made him feel unsuccessful and unworthy. 

Since neither Happy nor Willy has been able to understand that success in business--as in life--is based on internal character rather than on external appearances, each of them perpetuates the myth that a successful person must not be overweight but must be physically fit. 

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Happy wants to stay young, virile, and fit forever. Our culture values the myth of perpetual youth. Happy knows his glory days are behind him. It is especially hard for poor Happy to let his youth go because his father doesn't want to let them go either.

Happy looks to his father for confirmation. To me, the repeating of the question "I'm losing weight, you notice, Pop?: is his way to keep the myth alive. To me, it is not much differnt than Santa Claus. "Does Santa really exist?" "Of course, son."

Because of Willy and Happy's complicit arrangement to stay within myth, it's no wonder that it is Happy at the end who cannot deal with Willy's death. Who will tell him he's still young now?

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