Death of a Salesman
Death of a Salesman Dreams, Hopes, and Plans Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act)
LINDA: He’ll find his way.
WILLY: Sure. Certain men just don’t get started till later in life. Like Thomas Edison, I think. Or B.F. Goodrich. One of them was deaf. [He starts for the bedroom doorway.] I’ll put my money on Biff. (Act 1)
Willy clings to his hope that Biff will settle down and become a major business success despite the unlikelihood of such an event. This desperate hope is what eventually leads him to commit suicide by the end of the play. He goes to his death with the delusional idea that Biff will one day be a famous businessman.
WILLY: Don’t say? Tell you a secret, boys. Don’t breathe it to a soul. Someday I’ll have my own business, and I’ll never have to leave home any more.
HAPPY: Like Uncle Charley, heh?
WILLY: Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not liked. He’s liked, but he’s not — well liked. (Act 1. p. 18)
Amidst his preoccupation with financial survival, Willy insists he will make it big some day and have the home life that he wants. Almost more important to him than actual successful business deals is being liked. Over the course of the play, however, we learn that Willy isn't particularly well liked at all. This is just another one of his delusions.
LINDA: I’m just wondering if Oliver will remember him. You think he might?
WILLY: [coming out of the bathroom in his pajamas]: Remember him? What’s the matter with you, you crazy? If he’d stayed with Oliver he’d be on top by now! Wait’ll Oliver gets a look at him. You don’t know the average caliber any more. The average young man today —[he’s getting into bed]— is got a caliber of zero. Greatest thing in the world for him was to bum around. (Act 1)
Willy's comments cross the line from hopefulness about the future to the suggestion that his aspirations are already reality. He clings to the delusional idea that Biff is somehow superior to the average young man.