What is the relationship between Charley and Willy?
Charley is very well aware of the signs of Willy Loman's decline. Willy confides in Charley about his money situation and accepts financial help from Charley, who is concerned for Willy and who offers compassion as well as offering Willy a job.
The two men have been competitors over the years, with Charley always finding more success than Willy. Charley enjoys giving Willy a hard time, but ultimately wants to see Willy and his family do well.
We can see Charley's concern for Willy first in the fact that he makes a midnight visit to Willy's house when he hears Willy shouting, alone in the kitchen. We see this concern again in the advice that Charley gives as well as in the offer of a job. Charley knows that Willy is not entirely honest, yet he offers him a job anyway.
Willy's pride won't let him accept the job. It would be too much like admitting defeat, something he only does in his most private and desolate moments.
Charley is Willy's only true friend throughout the play. Charley is Willy's successful neighbor who goes out of his way several times to help Willy. Willy is extremely jealous of Charley and his son's success, and Charley is well aware of Willy's shortcomings. Unlike Willy, Charley is grounded, intelligent, and respectful. Willy secretly admires everything that Charley has accomplished, but is too proud to admit it. Willy also believes that he is better than Charley because he is well-liked and has athletic, handsome sons. Charley recognizes the error in Willy's judgement and pities his neighbor. Although Charley jokes with Willy knowing that he will upset him, Charley goes out of his way to help Willy. Charley not only consistently gives Willy fifty dollars, Charley also offers Willy a job which he declines.