At one point in Act 1, Happy offers to finance Willy's retirement (p.27). Willy scorns Happy's offer. Why?

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jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Willy has returned home late at night. He is exhausted and lost, and he's been talking to himself. Happy comes down from his bedroom to join Willy in the kitchen. Willy has just been remembering his brother, Ben:

WILLY: You guys! There was a man started with the clothes on his back and ended up with diamond mines!

HAPPY: Boy, someday I’d like to know how he did it.

WILLY: What’s the mystery? The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it! Walked into a jungle, and comes out, the age of twenty-one, and he’s rich! The world is an oyster, but you don’t crack it open on a mattress!

HAPPY: Pop, I told you I’m gonna retire you for life.

WILLY: You’ll retire me for life on seventy goddam dollars a week? And your women and your car and your apartment, and you’ll retire me for life! Christ’s sake, I couldn’t get past Yonkers today! Where are you guys, where are you? The woods are burning! I can’t drive a car!

First off, there is no way that Happy, with his mere seventy dollars a week, can retire anyone for life. In addition, Willy cites Happy's own expenses: his propensity for womanizing, his car payments and the rent he has to pay... all of his money is used up on those things. Besides, Willy dreams of real success, real money... the kind of money his brother Ben made, Ben, the man who Willy sees as "success incarnate."

Like his father, Happy is a dreamer who believes his own dreams, and Willy knows it.

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Death of a Salesman

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