Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act)
BIFF: I guess so. I know something about it and—
WILLY: He knows something about it! You know sporting goods better than Spalding for God’s sake! (Act 1)
Willy is deceiving himself yet again. You're probably not surprised. Here, he is attempting to convince Biff that, because Biff was a high school football star, he knows more about sporting goods than professionals in the industry. Umm, not so much, Willy.
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 statements function only to boost his and Linda's morale as they completely deny the reality that Biff was merely a shipping clerk when he worked for Oliver. Do you think Linda buys this? Is she as immersed in Willy's self-deception as she appears?
WILLY: I’m definitely going to get one. Because lots of time I’m on the road, and I think to myself, what I must be missing on the radio!
HOWARD: Don’t you have a radio in the car?
WILLY: Well, yeah, but who ever thinks of turning it on? (Act 2)
Willy comes off looking like a fool when he attempts to lie in order to impress Howard and soothe his own insecurities. Ironically, his constant need to lie in order to make himself well-liked is probably a big part of the reason that people don't really like him.