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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 he 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: 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.
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.