Comparison Between Death of a Salesman and Fences
Death of a Salesman and Fences are plays about the lives of two male protagonists, Willy Lowman and Troy Maxson, respectively. The protagonists have a strong influence on each of their sons during the scenes of the play. As their sons grow up, they are affected by their relationship with their fathers. Each son’s success in life as a man can be observed as inversely related to his relationship with his father when he was young. One affiliation is a positive one, but the son is unsuccessful, and one is negative, but the son is successful.
In Death of a Salesman, Willy and his son, Biff, have a respectable father and son relationship. Willy always encourages his son and tries to teach him life lessons to live by. Willy has a philosophy that being well liked leads to success. This philosophy stems from Willy’s idolization of Dave Singleman Dave Singleman is a legendary salesman who in his life time was so was well esteemed that all he had to do was pick up the phone from his hotel room, call his clients, and he would make the sale. After meeting Mr. Singleman, Willy knew that being revered was key to achieving success in the business world. This philosophy is what Willy tries to engrave in Biff. He makes Biff believe that school is not important and grades won’t get him as far as being popular. Willy tells Biff this by comparing him to Bernard, who is Biff’s friend and is academically gifted. “Bernard can get the best mark in school, y’understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y’understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him” (Miller 33).
... hot air; today this is called hype. Well, for Willy, his first-born son, Biff, is everything in the world. Even back when ... Willy Loman is a salesman and Biff is a salesman’s son. A lot of what some salesmen do is pump up the things they are ... end, Biff comes to terms with who he is, and Willy commits suicide… still dreaming of Biff’s long-awaited success and ...
Biff believes what his Willy says because he trusts his dad and looks up to him like most sons do with their fathers. This belief in being well liked is also why Willy encourages Biff to become a football player and not to focus on school. He believes through football Biff will be a star hotshot and this will ultimately lead to his success. Willy encourages Biff to achieve his goal of playing football. He also praises his son for stealing a football in order to practice. Willy tells Biff the coach would not be mad, but instead “congratulate him on his initiative” (Miller 30).
Instead of punishing Biff for stealing or at least telling Biff the wrongs of stealing, Willy plays down the whole situation. Willy’s dream for Biff is to live out the American Dream, to be successful and to be well liked. This is why he pushes his son towards football so much.
Since Willy toward Biff to not worry about school, Biff fails math and turns to his dad for help. As he searches for his father, he discovers that his father is having an affair. Since the two are so close to each other, this devastates Biff. Biff worships Willy, trusts him, and loves him. From this let down Biff does not know what to believe. He throws out all the lessons and morals that Willy taught him. When Biff enters the world he is a wreck and is helpless because his strong bond with his father has been broken. The affair destroys Biff’s future at success. He continues to steal as he grows up, and he can not hold a job. Fathers are suppose to put their son on the right path and help them in the beginning, but Willy did not.
In Fences Troy and his son, Cory, have a bitter and tense relationship. Troy’s hostile attitude towards Cory originates from his past. As Troy grew up he had a dream of playing major league baseball, but could not attain it. Troy blames racism for his failures and he cannot let go of this resentment. He then built a fence around him to keep himself from getting hurt any further. Although his fence protects him from pain, it also keeps things out like his son, Corey. The two can never become close to one another because Troy pushes Cory back, so he himself cannot get hurt. Troy does not want to become emotionally attached to Cory and lose him. Another reason why Troy and Cory cannot become close is because Troy doesn’t have too. According to Troy he does not have to like Cory, just take care of him. He has an obligation to protect Cory, but no obligation to bond with him. “Not cause I like you! Cause it’s my duty to take care of you. I owe a responsibility to you (38).” From Troy’s responsibility to Cory, he sees it fit to stop Cory from making the mistake of playing football. Just like with Biff in Death of a Salesman, Cory has the chance to obtain a college football scholarship.
... explicitly encourages his sons' dishonesty. He allows Biff to steal a football, building materials, and answers on a math exam. Willy couches these ... the power of physical superiority becomes a handicap. Biff loses a college football scholarship because he ignores the need to perform ... father. No matter how direct Biff is, Willy will not face the truth about himself or his sons. "Will you let it ...
Instead of encouraging him, Troy tells Cory he is not allowed to play football and should focus on a job at the A&P. Troy want Cory to have a sturdy, supporting job. Corey cannot forgive his father for taking away his dream to play football. Troy’s actions and unwavering stance make Cory become disrespectful to his father. Although it seems Troy is jealous because Cory has the opportunity to achieve what was denied to him, he also wants to spare Cory from the racism that he himself faced. By attempting to insure Cory of a harmless future, Troy stifles his son’s potential and prevents Cory from playing football. This build up of tension between the two finally leads them to clash. This conflict causes Corey to leave home and be on his own. All he has left is the lessons and work ethic that Troy tried to instill in him. Although Troy does not encourage his son to play football he does try to teach him valuable life lesson. Troy tells Cory to obtain a skill or work his way up at the A&P. He doesn’t want Cory to take the risk of playing football, which is controlled by whites. Troy wants Cory to have a job because he feels that a man cannot have a respectable living from playing sports, especially a black man. Instead of caring about his happiness, Troy cares about Cory being financially successful, so he can be a provider for his family. Troy also, tries to teach his son how to have a good work ethic and how to achieve a goal. This is illustrated when Cory wants Troy to buy a TV. Instead of just buying it, Troy offers to pay half as long as Cory can come up with the other half. This example emphasizes the kind of responsible parenting that Troy sees as his duty to Cory. Troy believes this will be positive for Cory’s work ethic, while supporting his son goal. Instead of bonding and being liked by his son, Troy lives by the obligations of a father and tries to put Cory on a stable path when he enters the world.
... son. Troy's response to his relationship with his son is cold and unfeeling, just like the attitude his father held toward him. When Cory ... In light of the fact that Troy is a good man and provides for their family in a ... man" (549; I, 4). It was at that moment that Troy made the decision to free himself from his father ... life without him: a succession of abusive men and their babies, a life of partying ...
By living up to his duty as a father Troy helps Cory become a successful man when he leaves home. Even finding about Troy’s affair does not cause Cory to collapse. If the two were close, like Willy and Biff, Cory may have had the some fate as Biff. Instead it just makes Cory look down on his father and disrespect him more. Troy’s infidelity makes Cory want to be a respected man unlike his father. Due to the loss of his home, his disgust at his father, and the loss of the scholarship, Cory decides to enter the Marines.
Each father tremendously affects their son as they grow up. Although Willy loved and encouraged his son, he failed to teach him valuable life lessons to live by. Willy did not live up to his responsibilities that he owed his son. On the other hand Troy did, but at the cost of never being able to bond with Cory. Troy knew what a father was supposed to do and Willy did not. Both fathers also have affairs that affect their sons differently. Biff, who respected his dad, is beleaguered and cannot be successful. In Fences though, Cory, who disrespects his father, is not beleaguered by it, but instead it causes him to pursue the job of a Marines official. Even though Biff had a decent childhood, he was unfortunate as a man and for Cory it was the other way around. Each son’s success can be ultimately viewed as the opposite of their relationship with their father.