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WILLY: That’s just what I mean, Bernard can get the best marks 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. That’s why I thank Almighty God you’re both built like Adonises. Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. "Willy Loman is here!" That’s all they have to know and I go right through.
WILLY: A hundred and twenty dollars! My God, if business doesn’t pick up I don’t know what I’m gonna do! (Act 1)
While Willy continues see himself as successful and well liked, reality occasionally forces him to acknowledge his financial problems. It's hard to ignore it when you just don't have enough money to pay for what you need.
LINDA: How’d the Chevy run?
WILLY: Chevrolet, Linda, is the greatest car ever built.
LINDA: No, they did a wonderful job. Then you owe Frank for the carburetor.
WILLY: I’m not going to pay that man! That goddamn Chevrolet, they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car! (Act 1)
Stepping out of the myths he's created about himself and realizing his true financial situation, Willy immediately expresses a complete change of opinion about his car. This helps to show just how flimsy Willy's idea and assertions can be.
WILLY: Oh, I’ll knock ‘em dead next week. I’ll go to Hartford. I’m very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don’t seem to take to me.
[They move onto the forestage]
LINDA: Oh, don’t be foolish.
WILLY: I know it when I walk in. They seem to laugh at me.
LINDA: Why? Why would they laugh at you? Don’t talk that way, Willy.
[Willy moves to the edge of the stage. Linda goes into the kitchen and starts to darn stockings.]
WILLY: I don’t know the reason for it, but they just pass me by. I’m not noticed. (Act 1)
Willy contradicts himself by saying that he is both well liked and ignored, suggesting that he frequently deceives himself about his success. However, the truth seems to always be just under the surface. This tortures him and eventually drives him insane – literally.