Who is Bernard in "Death of a Salesman"? Compare Willy's view of him in Act I and II.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bernard is Charley's son and childhood friends with Biff. Bernard grows up next to Willy Loman and is continually visiting his house to hang out with Biff and Happy. Unlike Biff, Bernard is short, small, and not athletic. Bernard is portrayed as a nerd in Act One, and Willy views him as an unpopular, annoying geek. While Willy does not necessarily have ill feelings towards Bernard, he does not respect him and makes several comments regarding Bernard's lack of popularity. Willy does not believe that Bernard will be successful in life because he is not well-liked.

In Act Two, Willy runs into Bernard at Charley's office and is astonished to discover that Bernard is a successful lawyer who will be presenting a case in front of the Supreme Court. Willy is impressed with Bernard's success and even asks him why Biff never turned out to be a success. Willy is proud of Bernard's success but feels upset that his son never amounted to anything. Essentially, Bernard is Biff's foil, and is depicted as a hardworking, intelligent, driven individual.

cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bernard is the son of Charley, Willy's neighbor. When Bernard is a teenager, he tries to help Biff with his math, but even then Willy is contemptuous of Bernard because he isn't an athlete. Willy calls him "an anemic." Bernard contrasts sharply with Willy's sons because he is a good student and works hard in school.

As a young man, Bernard becomes a lawyer. Willy is impressed when he discovers in Act II that Bernard is going to argue a case before the Supreme Court. Bernard has become quietly successful while Biff has accomplished nothing in Willy's view. The former "anemic" is now the winner.

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Death of a Salesman

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