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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

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What does Ben mean to Willy? Why does Willy think Ben is successful?

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To Willy, Ben appears as the personification of success, and therefore everything that he himself isn't. Ben is also considerably older than Willy so it is natural for Willy to look up to him in any case. Ben apparently made a fortune when he went out at a young age to Alaska. Willy is desperate to emulate Ben's material success but is far more unsure of himself. To Willy, Ben is also something of a romantic figure, the man who singlehandedly amassed a fortune. The figure of Ben haunts Willy to the end of his life; he never stops regretting the fact that he didn't go out to Alaska with him.

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