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WILLY: How can he find himself on a farm? Is that a life? A farmhand? In the beginning, when he was young, I thought, well, a young man, it’s good for him to tramp around, take a lot of different jobs. But it’s more than ten years now and he has yet to make thirty-five dollars a week!
LINDA: He’s finding himself, Willy.
WILLY: Not finding yourself at the age of thirty-four is a disgrace! (Act 1)
Willy considers Biff's failure in business as a betrayal of his expectations. It is ironic, however, that, throughout the play, Willy seems to long for just the sort of simpler lifestyle that his son has created for himself. Could it be that Willy's feelings of betrayal are some ways linked to feelings of jealousy toward his son?
WILLY: [noticing her mending] What’s that?
LINDA: Just mending my stockings. They’re so expensive!
WILLY: [angrily, taking them from her]: I won’t have you mending stockings in this house! Now throw them out!
[Linda puts the stockings in her pocket] (Act 1)
Willy lashes out at Linda about her mending stockings because it reminds him of his affair and betrayal of her. We wonder if Linda ever suspected Willy's betrayal. What do you think? Are there any clues in the play that hint at this?
BIFF: Because I know he’s a fake and he doesn’t like anybody around who knows!
LINDA: Why a fake? In what way? What do you mean?
BIFF: Just don’t lay it all at my feet. It’s between me and him—that’s all I have to say. (Act 1)
Biff feels betrayed by his father's affair, but refuses to tell Linda. Does he do this out of loyalty to his father, or is he just trying to protect Linda from the truth? Is he, in a way, betraying his mother by not telling her the truth of his father's infidelity?