“Death of a Salesman” Journal

“Death of a Salesman” Journal
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We all live in a world of fantasy and imagined reality. It is a world where we tend to idealize every situation we are in, every person we interact with, and every ambition that we have. It is a stylized notion of reality that is fed by the harsh realities of life. We may never achieve these lifelong ambitions and idealized situations, but we will certainly live our lives trying to achieve it. That I believe, is the message contained in the story of “Death of a Salesman”.

Just like everyone else who was born and raised in the United States after World War 2, the main character in the story, Willy Loman, has lived all of his adult life going after and trying to achieve the well known concept of the “American Dream”. Throughout the novel, specially in the scene where Willy is calling Biff his “loser” son, we come to realize that he is a man who is bitter at never having been able to achieve all of his aspirations in life. His observation of his son as a “lazy bum” and the conversations that he has with himself throughout the story about Biff proves that he sees this particular son as the embodiment of all his failures in life. Hence his supreme disappointment in his son’s achievements.
Throughout all of the ups and downs of Willy’s life, I noticed that the one constant in it was that he dutifully made the mortgage payments on the home that sheltered them. As far as Willy was concerned, completing the payments on the house would represent a portion of the “American Dream” that he had successfully achieved, even if he did not achieve the rest of his ambitions in life. I found it quite troubling that the materialistic ideology of World War 2 America was so strong during its time that it could actually ruin a life rather than become a focal point of improvement.

Act One of “Death of a Salesman” Journal

In act one of “Death of a Salesman”, we are confronted with the various eccentricities and strangeness of the main characters. But the most striking presentation in this act is that of the character of the father and focal character in the story, Willy Loman. A man who seems to have some mental and psychological issues which affect his family and his capacity to be the father of the house.
As we go through the first act, we discover that Willy has a penchant for talking to himself and also disagreeing with his own statements. This proves that there is a delusional side to Willy who, in his advanced age, is still a traveling salesman. It become apparent as he talks to himself that Willy has created two worlds for himself in order to deal with the harsh realities of his life. In the world where he talks to himself, life is good and he is satisfied with the way his family life has turned out. Which is most definitely a far cry from the reality of his family life. It appears that he often slips into his delusional state because his arguments with his wife always find him contradicting himself thus causing their fights which their children can hear.

It is important to note that throughout act one, we are asked to analyze the back story of the characters and the reasons behind their current situation. It then becomes obvious that these people found themselves where they are because of their individual aspirations to achieve their goals in life on their own terms. How they achieve or do not achieve those dreams, is what makes “Death of a Salesman” a very heart wrenching story to read.