Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, why is Willy annoyed by Biff? What does this tell us about Willy? 

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It is extremely common for American parents to want their children to be successful. Part of the American Dream is for people to have children who are better than their parents--better educated, better looking, more intelligent, and especially better off financially. Bernard symbolizes all that. He has wealthy, important friends. He plays tennis on their private courts. He is going to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court! Willy has begun to realize that he is never going to amount to much. Like a lot of other fathers, he consoles himself that at least he has been biologically successful. He has fathered two strong and healthy sons and worked hard to raise them to manhood. They could salvage his American Dream--but only if they are successful themselves. Willy has pinned his hopes on Biff, since Biff seemed to show the most potential. He has tried to condition Biff to be ambitious and enterprising. And Biff has tried to live up to his father's expectations. But he can't make it. He doesn't have any special ability. He didn't get any specialized training in school. At the very least he could have gone to college and learned a suitable profession or trade. He could never have been a doctor and probably wouldn't have made a good lawyer, but he could have become some sort of draftsman or medical technician or a contractor or something along those lines. For some reason, he didn't prepare. A high school diploma won't take you very far these days, and it wasn't too much better...

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