In Fences and Death of a Salesman, to what extent are Willy and Troy wrong about how American society has changed during their lifetimes?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am going to make the call that "Willy" refers to Willy Loman from Miller's Death of a Salesman. I do not see both Willy and Troy that far off about the world in which they live.  American society had changed to a point where individuals like Willy and Troy feel extreme pressure.  Miller writes that he wanted to convey "the situation" in which Willy was immersed was one that represented pure struggle.  In much the same way, Troy is depicted as an individuals who is confronting immense struggle on both socio- economic and racial levels.  Both Willy and Troy are correct in that the social forces of the time period are seeking to challenge individuals who are like the protagonists in each setting.  Where both of them are confused and misguided is not in their assessment of social wrongs, but rather in how they address them.  Willy does not recognize that a social setting in which "the American Dream" is one predicated upon the acquisition of wealth is wrong.  Willy does not react against this, but rather capitulates to it and eventually is killed by it.  Troy is not wrong for pointing out the racism and discrimination in his world.  Yet, he internalizes this rather than seeks to rise against it.  The construction of "fences" in his own life is a means to prevent confronting it and seeking to transcend it in his own state of being in the world.  Both characters are not necessarily wrong about how American society has changed, but rather are misguided in their attempts to understand how it impacts them.