In Death of a Salesman, who is Dave Singleman and what impression did he have on Willy Loman?

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Michael Otis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As he grovels in the office of a distracted and disinterested Howard Wagner, pleading for an in-town job, lowering his salary requests again and again, Willy Loman desperately relates a histrionic story of the eighty-four-year-old Dave Singleman who, without ever leaving his hotel room, conducted a successful sales career. When he died the noble "death of salesman", hundreds of his associates - out of love and respect - attended his funeral. In fact it was the manner of Singleman's death, not his life, which drew Willy to embrace salesmanship and to turn away from the pioneering, 'Horatio Alger' type of career offered by his brother, Ben. In this decision, Willy rebuffs the rugged individualism and the indifference to social relationships exemplified in Ben Loman. Rather, Willy chooses Singleman's way, a life of loyalty and friendship, a life cocooned in a web of sustaining social relationships. But when Willy's manner of death is juxtaposed with Singleman's, its irony and tragedy are all the more poignant, for Willy dies alone.