Willy praises and the curses the chevrolet, and he tells Linda that he's very welll liked. what do these inconsistencies tell us about Willy?

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Willy is unable to reconcile himself to the fact that he is a failure and that he has not reached the heights he aspired to as a salesman, husband or father. He is mentally unstable from the beginning of the play, and he does realise that he is inadequate. However,...

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Willy is unable to reconcile himself to the fact that he is a failure and that he has not reached the heights he aspired to as a salesman, husband or father. He is mentally unstable from the beginning of the play, and he does realise that he is inadequate. However, the enormity of Willy’s lack of success and the fact that it pervades every part of his life is too unbearable for him to accept totally, and he regresses into flashbacks where he has not yet wasted his life, or when the promise of some success still exists.

His conversation with Linda about the Chevrolet is within one of these flashbacks, and reveals that even when there was some hope, Willy was never a decisive man, and could not be honest with himself even then. He begins to tell Linda that on his most recent trip he was

Sellin’ thousands and thousands

However, when Linda tries to get him to be precise so she can calculate his earnings, the figure drops from over two hundred dollars to seventy. As their outgoings, which involve paying for the car and other trappings of materialistic life, are one hundred and twenty dollars.

Their poor financial status is tempered in the flashback by the fact that Willy still has the love and respect of his sons –

Few men are idolized by their children the way you are

He also has the solid support of Linda, which he retains until his death. However, the next flashback he experiences is when he is with the woman he had an affair with. It shows how Willy destroys what is good about his life, and how he is fully capable of pinpointing when his family life was shattered: as a result of the fateful business trip to Boston.

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The main messages that the audience gets from most of Willy Loman's actions can be summarized in the following:

  • inconsistent
  • contradictory
  • incomplete

This is because, as it is evident throughout the play, Willy Loman has never really had a backbone that would provide him with the self-assurance that is so needed to make good choices and move on through life. Part of this lack of back-bone comes from the fact that Willy was abandoned by his father so early in life. Also, right as he is left with his elder brother as his main keeper, his brother also leaves. Willy never really had the male role model that he very much needed to understand his role as a son, a father, and a husband. This is the main reason why he basically failed at all three.

The result of a living without guidance leads Willy to double-guess himself all of the time. On one hand, he calls himself "vital" and "well-liked" while, on the other hand, he has to ask his mistress whether he is funny, or whether he is likable. Likewise, while he feels sure that he is ready to go explore Alaska with his brother, he again double-guesses himself and asks Linda what she thinks about the possibility. Willy just is not capable of making an educated decision and create viable choices from them. He simply has no clue who he is, or what he has to offer.

Then there is the Chevy.  When the car was first purchased it was a sign of great times to come. The car was one of Willy's prized possessions, and having come to own it represented a sign that his American Dream was well on its way to come true.
However, time has passed, and the Chevy no longer does the job it once did; like Willy, the car is outdated and needs a lot of fixing up. Yet, despite of all this, the mixed emotions that Willy has about it shows Willy's own inability to think objectively- he simply goes with what he feels at the time. This huge flaw is what leads his life on a road to nowhere.

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Act I of Death of A Salesman opens up the door to Willy's mind and personality, especially when he begins to have his vivid flashbacks of better times gone by.

When it comes to the Chevy we find that, in one same conversation, Willy openly contradicts himself about the car's efficiency and service.

When Willy is having a flashback about better days, he remembers how he and the boys acquired the car, their home, and were basically living up the American Dream. Those were the days when Willy was still young and hopeful. Having the car and the house were indicators that he had finally "made it".

Linda: How'd the Chevy run?

Willy: Chevrolet, Linda, is the greatest car ever built.

This is the reaction that Willy gets towards his All-American car when things are going well and when he feels that he has finally succeeded in life: he is married, has a home, has kids, is "well-liked", has a sales job, and...he has his dream Chevy.

Yet, in that same conversation, Willy comes back to the present. Here he is, 63 years old, still a mediocre salesman, making less than ever, his sons all grown and doing not-so-well. When he remembers the Chevy back then, Linda is (in the present) relating to Willy all the debts that they owe now. Among those things they need money for, there is the Chevy. It had to get its carburetor changed and Willy owes money for that. Here, the attitude changes.

Willy- I'm not going to pay that man! That g***amn Chevrolet! They ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car!

Here is reality: The Chevy, like Willy's American Dream, will not last forever and is now old, used, and broken down. It even needed some replacements. This allegorical element shows how Willy's life has actually gone downhill with time, instead of the other way around. Willy knows this, and this is why, when things are good, the Chevy is a great car. When things are bad, the Chevy (much like his dream) is a disgrace.

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