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Discuss the Relationship Between Willy and Biff Up to P24


Willy and Biff are father and son. Willy Loman is a salesmen where you will find when trying to make a sale, a salesmen will hype up what they are trying to sell to encourage the customer to buy the product. Willy uses this same technique with Willy places Biff on a metaphorical pedestal thinking he can achieve the impossible ‘He could be big in not time!’ (p6). This shows that Willy wants to treat Biff extra special, which is highlighted to the audience when Willy starts to day dream on page 16.
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            During the daydream, we find a lot about Biff and Willy’s relationship with one another. Biff starts off by saying he was ‘lonesome’ without Willy around ‘Missed you every minute’ (p17). It is clear that Biff doesn’t like the fact Willy is always travelling therefore appreciates Willy a lot more when he returns home. Biff also tries to show his dedication to Willy ‘just for you, I’m going to break through for a touch down’ (p19) illustrating how much Biff wants to satisfy and impress his dad through showing his physical strength while playing American football. On page 20, Willy speaks about how both his sons are ‘built like Adonises’ showing how proud he is of both his son’s physical appearance. After that, he talks about himself almost comparing how he is to how he wants his two sons to be ‘You take me, for instance’.

            Willy and Biff’s relationship is strengthened from Happy’s actions: his actions to also impress Willy and get his attention, ‘(on his back, pedalling again) I’m losing weight, you notice, Pop?’ This is Happy’s second attempt to try and get Willy’s attention however both times he has failed with Willy completely ignoring him and focusing his attention on Biff. This tells the audience that Willy almost ranks Biff higher than Happy like a hierarchy: he puts Biff before Happy which immediately raises questions of corruption already in the family: the sons should be equal in the eyes of Willy. However, the uneven love between the sons strengthens the whole idea of this play being a tragedy.

            Willy’s idea of discipline on Biff is also questions here making the audience feel if Willy doesn’t want to put Biff down at all, ‘Coach’ll probably congratulate you on your initiative!’ At first, Willy half-heartedly told Biff off for borrowing the ball but later changed his mind telling Biff he had ‘initiative’. It is clear Willy is proud of his son for different reasons and doesn’t want anyone, even himself, to criticise Biff in any way. We also pick up that Biff and Willy have an affectionate relationship from Willy ‘(kisses Biff)’ because Biff was going to score a touchdown for him.

            Overall, it is clear that Willy and Biff have a close relationship that works on Biff wanting to impress Willy in every way. This is why Happy tries to show how he is ‘losing weight’ – to get Willy’s attention and affection the same way Biff by impressing him. However, this is only the relationship of the past in Willy’s hind sight therefore might not be as accurate as Willy portrays it to be. The relationship between Biff and Willy is present day is one of mixed opinions due to Biff not earning more than ’35 dollars a week’. Willy states how Biff is ‘a lazy bum’ (p5) but then contradicts himself saying ‘he’s not lazy’. This shows Willy is tired and old which is having an impact on their relationship. However, Willy still highlights Biff’s strengths, ‘When he smiled at one of them their faces lit up’ (p6). Willy and Biff’s relationship is one of pride and affection, especially when Biff was young. However, as time has gone by, their relationship has been corrupted due to Willy’s health decreasing and the lack of money Biff is making.

About Will Green

A student in England studying Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money. You can follow AskWillOnline via @AskWillOnline.

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