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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller
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What is the relationship between Biff and Happy? What have they done with their lives, and how is it a reflection of their upbringing?

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Biff and Happy have a relatively amicable relationship, which is established on delusion. In the play, Biff is thirty-four years old and Happy is two years younger. Both the Loman boys are unsuccessful, selfish individuals, who have accomplished nothing in life. Biff has never been able to hold down a serious job and even has a criminal record for stealing a suit. Happy Loman is depicted as a corrupt womanizer and refuses to accept the reality of his sad situation. Despite their past failures, Biff and Happy come up with the "Florida idea" to start a family sporting goods store. However, Biff cannot attain money from his former boss Bill Oliver to fund their business plan and the idea of starting a successful enterprise together is completely delusional.

After Biff's embarrassing meeting with Bill Oliver, he recognizes for the first time that he has been living a lie. Unlike Happy, who is content pretending that he will eventually become an enormous success, Biff takes responsibility for his failures and attempts to reveal the truth to his father. Both Biff and Happy's failures reflect their upbringing and are a result of Willy allowing them to steal, cheat, and take advantage of others when they were adolescents. Willy failed to instill the values of hard work, selflessness, and dedication in his sons, which negatively influenced their perception of the world. Biff and Happy grew up believing that being well-liked was the most important thing in life, which was terrible advice from Willy and contributed to their numerous struggles once they entered the competitive business world.

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