Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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In Death of a Salesman, how does the relationship between Charley and Bernard's relationship create a contrast to Willy and Biff's relationship?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The relationship between Charley and Bernard is the kind which Willy wishes he had with Biff. Father and son get along very well, both on a personal and professional level. In addition to Charley's ongoing success in business, Bernard's rapidly moving up in the world, forging a successful career as a hotshot lawyer.

The success of Charley and his son serves to illustrate the huge gap that's opened up between the delusional Willy and the real world he no longer understands. Willy's convinced himself that there's no reason why he can't enjoy the same kind of success as Charley and why Biff can't stake his claim in the world like Bernard. But there's no chance of this happening, and it's all because of Willy. Willy wrecked his relationship with Biff due to an extra-marital affair with a secretary. However many hopes he may have of some kind of reconciliation, they're as unrealistic as his prospects of once more becoming a hotshot salesman. Charley and Bernard symbolize an ideal, an ideal...

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