Death of a Salesman Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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Why does Willy both defend and criticize Biff in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller?

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The love/hate relationship between Willy and Biff stems from three events that changed the perception that the men had of one another:

  1. uncovering who each of them really is
  2. ending their sham dynamics and
  3. realizing the difference between their fantasies versus their reality.

Willy saw in Biff both his future dreams and his shattered dreams. Biff was the source of Willy's hopes and possibilities. When Biff was no longer Willy's symbol of success, Willy's former admiration transformed into rejection. All is further complicated by the fact that, regardless of it all, they are still father and son.

How it all began

From the very beginning of the play Death of a Salesmanthe audience can perceive that there is an inner conflict between the character of Willy Loman and both of his children. This becomes evident when Biff tells his brother Happy about his father, Willy:

"Everything I say there's a twist of mockery on...

(The entire section contains 478 words.)

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