Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Visions of America Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act)
HAPPY [enthralled]: That’s what I dream about Biff. Sometimes I wanna just rip my clothes off in the middle of the store and outbox that goddamned merchandise manager. I mean I can outbox, outlift and outrun anybody in that store, and I have to take orders from those petty, common sons of bitches till I can’t stand it anymore. (Act 1)
Though Happy prefers a more primal form of competition, he cannot let go of the idea that success comes from the businesslike competition of the American office place. Like Biff and Willy, he longs for a simpler life, but is trapped within the hamster wheel of American capitalism.
WILLY: You and Hap and I, and I’ll show you all the towns. America is full of beautiful towns and fine, upstanding people. And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England. The finest people. And when I bring you fellas up, there’ll be open sesame for all of us, ‘cause one thing, boys: I have friends. I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own. This summer, heh? (Act 1)
Willy's characterization of the American people as kind and virtuous to anyone who is personally attractive demonstrates his utter faith in his twisted version of the American Dream. Willy is a slave to the delusional idea that he is in fact the poster boy for that dream—that he has "made it."
WILLY: What’s the mystery? The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it! Walked into a jungle, and comes out, the age of twenty-one, and he’s rich! The world is an oyster, but you don’t crack it open on a mattress! (Act 1)
Willy's insistence that finding success is as easy as wanting it reveals total faith in the idea that he can get rich quick. It's interesting that his brother actually made his fast fortune in Africa rather than America. We wonder how this computes with Willy's faith in the American Dream.