To Willy Loman, success is a reflection in the eyes of others. He is deeply insecure about his own abilities as well as his appearance and constantly engages in approval-seeking behavior. Although he has a loving wife and did formerly have his sons' love, he alienates his boys by withholding affection and betraying their mother.
Willie's boasting and self-aggrandizement are bound up in his evaluations of being "liked." In Act 1, bragging about his future success, he insists that he will surpass Charley. He tells his sons the "secret" that he will one day have a business of his own.
Happy: Like Uncle Charley, heh?
Willy: Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not—liked. He’s liked, but he’s not–well liked.
Associating success with physical appearance, he again emphasizes being liked. Creating personal interest is also named as the key to getting ahead.
Be liked and you will never want.
When Willy speaks with Charley, confessing his financial problems, he still falls back on...
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