In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, why is Biff determined to tell Willy the truth about himself?

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lcassidy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman", Biff is determined to have his father hear about his true self.  Throughout his entire life, Willy has convinced Biff that being successful meant that you didn’t have to work hard, you only had to be well-liked.  He also instilled such false values as stealing, lying to yourself and others, and convincing yourself of untruths.  In fact, Willy was able to convince himself that he was a successful salesman, but the reality was that he needed to ask his friend and neighbour Charlie for money every week.   Biff had become disillusioned as his father had taught him until his meeting with Bill Oliver.  During this meeting, he realized that he actually convinced himself that he knew this man, and the that this man, in turn, knew him.  In addition, upon this realization, he decided to steal Oliver’s fountain pen and run away.  This is a crucial point for Biff’s character; this is where he realizes that he is becoming just like his father.  This is also why it is so important for him to tell his father the truth.   He wanted to tell him that he was a fake and that he managed to convince himself that he knew Bill Oliver when he didn’t.  At this point, Biff wants to change the cycle he’s been on and make a positive difference in his life. 

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Death of a Salesman

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