Death of a Salesman Success Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act)
WILLY [now assured, with rising power]: Oh, Ben, that’s the whole beauty of it! I see it like a diamond, shining in the dark, hard and rough, that I can pick up and touch in my hand. Not like—like an appointment! This would not be another damned fool appointment, Ben, and it changes all the aspects. Because he thinks I’m nothing, see, and so he spites me. But the funeral—[Straightening up] Ben, that funeral will be massive! They’ll come up from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire! All the old timers with the strange license plates—that boy will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realized—I am known! Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey—I am known, Ben, and he’ll see it with his eyes once and for all. He’ll see what I am, Ben! He’s in for a shock that boy! (Act 2)
Willy's musings about diamonds and his funeral foreshadow his death. This all becomes incredibly tragic later on when nobody really shows up at Willy's funeral at all. By Willy's own standards, his life and death have been totally unsuccessful.
BIFF: I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you. You were never anything but a hard-working drummer who landed in the ash can like the rest of them! I’m one-dollar an hour, Willy! I tried seven states and couldn’t raise it. A buck an hour! Do you gather my meaning? I’m not bringing home any prizes anymore and you’re going to stop waiting for me to bring them home! (Act 2)
Biff insists he be left alone to live his life. He's begging his father to allow him to measure his personal success in his own way. Biff no longer wants any part of Willy's delusions.
BEN: The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy.
BEN [with greater force]: One must go in to fetch a diamond out.
BEN: Not like an appointment at all. A diamond is rough and hard to the touch.
BEN: Best thing! (Act 2)
Ben's refrain, with words like "hard" and "touch," suggests the importance of concrete wealth. Willy is haunted by the fact that his life of work hasn't really amounted to anything tangible.