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American History X

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The Powerful Conclusion of Death of a Salesman

The play \"Death of a Salesman\" shows the final demise of Willy Loman, a

sixty-year-old salesman in the America of the 1940\'s, who has deluded

himself all his life about being a big success in the business world. It

also portrays his wife Linda, who \"plays along\" nicely with his lies and

tells him what he wants to hear, out of compassion. The book describes the

last day of his life, but there are frequent \"flashbacks\" in which Willy

relives key events of the past, often confusing them with what is

happening in the present. His two sons, Biff and Happy, who are in their

30\'s, have become failures like himself. Both of them have gone from

idolizing their father in their youth to despising him in the present.

On the last few pages of the play, Willy finally decides to take his own

life ([1] and [2]). Not only out of desperation because he just lost his

job, with which he was hardly earning enough to pay ordinary expenses at

the end. He does it primarily because he thinks that the life insurance

payout [3] will allow Biff to come to something [4], so that at least one

of the Lomans will fulfill his unrealistic dream of great wealth and

success. But even here in one of his last moments, while having a

conversation with a ghost from the past, he continues to lie to himself by

saying that his funeral will be a big event [2], and that there will be

guests from all over his former working territory in attendance. Yet as was

to be expected, this is not what happens, none of the people he sold to

come. Although perhaps this wrong foretelling could be attributed to

senility, rather than his typical self-deception [5]. Maybe he has

forgotten that the \"old buyers\" have already died of old age. His imagined

dialogue partner tells him that Biff will consider the impending act one of

cowardice. This obviously indicates that he himself also thinks that it\'s

very probable that Biff will hate him even more for doing it, as the

presence of \"Ben\", a man whom he greatly admires for being a successful

businessman, is a product of his own mind. But he ignores this knowledge

which he carries in himself, and goes on with his plan.

After this scene, Biff, who has decided to totally sever the ties with his

parents, has an \"abprupt conversation\" (p.99) with Willy. Linda and Biff

are in attendance. He doesn\'t want to leave with another fight, he wants

to make peace with his father [6] and tell him goodbye in a friendly

manner. He has realized, that all his life, he has tried to become

something that he doesn\'t really want to be, and that becoming this

something (a prosperous businessman) was a (for him) unreachable goal

which was only put into his mind by his father (p.105). He doesn\'t want a

desk, but the exact opposite: To work outside, in the open air, with his

hands. But he\'s willing to forgive [6] Willy for making this grave mistake

while Biff was in his youth. He simply wants to end their relationship in

a dignified way. Willy is very angered by this plan of Biff\'s [7], because

it means that he is definitely not going to take the 20000 dollars and

make a fortune out of it.

Happy, who has become very much like his father, self-deceiving and never

facing reality, is shocked by what Biff says. He is visibly not used to

hearing the naked truth being spoken in his family. He objects by telling

another lie, \"We always told the truth!\" (p.104).

This only serves to enrage Biff further, after Willy has already denied

shaking his hand, which would have been a gesture of great symbolic

meaning. For Willy, it would have meant admitting to everybody that he was

wrong, and it would show acceptance of his son\'s true nature. But Willy

goes on to say that Biff is doing all of this out of spite, and not because

it is what he really wants. Spite, because the teenage Biff had once

caught him cheating on Linda, and that was the turning point from being

admired, to being hated by

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