Compare and Contrast Two Characters from Two Different Readings: Cholly (The Bluest Eye) and Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman)

Compare and Contrast Two Characters from Two Different Readings: Cholly (The Bluest Eye) and Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman)

In my essay I will compare and contrast the characters from two different books: one is The Bluest Eye written by Tony Morrison and the other is Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman - Compare and Contrast Two Characters from Two Different Readings: Cholly (The Bluest Eye) and Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman) introduction. The two characters are tragic ones and their tragedies are based on their delusions and misunderstanding their roles in society. Willy Loman is described by Arthur Miller as a white man who spends his life trying to fulfill the aim of his own philosophy of attractiveness – to become happy without mentioning hard work. In the play Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman attempts to build his life around his dreams and finally he commits a suicide because he gets disillusioned of his American Dream. On the other hand, Cholly from The Bluest Eye is a representative of blacks of America. He managed to survive in the cruel world without ever knowing what love and happiness are. The characters of Cholly and Willy Loman seem to be different at the first sight, but being closely examined, they can have some similar features.

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For example, both Cholly and Willy abandoned their own families in the pursuit of their dreams, they both affected lives of their family members; they searched to self-assert at the expense of a physical love with a woman, however, their transgressions took different forms: rape and adultery. Thus, in my essay I will discus the issues of: family and responsibly; attractiveness and achieving happiness in one’s life; one’s individual freedom and community – where the key similarities of Cholly and Willy may be viewed and show the contrast of the two characters with the help of the following differences: Cholly has never experienced parental love and care, though Willy was raised in a good family; Chooly was black and thus deprived form social chances, Willy was white, but his used his opportunities in wrong way;  Cholly’s freedom was not constrained socially and individually, unlike Willy’s, but he used it for negative purposes.

Cholly and Willy Loman failed to fulfill the roles of a caring parent and a loving husband in their families. Unlike Cholly, Willy Loman was not abandoned and deserted in his early childhood. He was well brought up, loved and even received an example to follow. Later, being married to Linda, Willy Loman continued to construct artifice of his life, rejecting the value of his family. The matter is that Willy did not understand the merits of his family, and did not recognize love his family members were ready to offer. Willy Loman perceived the concept of family only as a step to obtaining American Dream. But at the same time he forgets about teaching morals, devoting his time and sharing his interests with his family members. Loman only consumes the advantages of being a father and a husband, though he forgets about his duties and responsibilities to his wife and children. Willy thinks what he has done is enough, that behaving himself properly in front of his children will force them to become kind and virtuous. But following their father’s model, Willy’s children learn just imitation of being good and at the same time they start deceiving and stealing like their father does. Finally, the egoism and authority of Willy broke the life of his elder son and negatively influenced on the rest of the members of his family.

On the other hand, Cholly is incapable of showing love and feeling through his interaction with his wife and children. He was deprived of love, family and care and nobody taught him how to treat his children and his wife. Unlike Willy, Cholly does not deceive anybody, but he also fails to be a head of his family. To justify him, it can be motioned that throughout all his life, Cholly learns only negative attitude and gets only negative experience. Thus, it is not surprising that soon after his marriage, he substituted the communication with his wife for drinking with his topers. Cholly abandoned his family duties because once he was abandoned by his father himself and left by his mother. As a result, Cholly, who acknowledged only sexual love, raped his daughter and caused her further insanity. Also, like Willy, Cholly married for his personal benefits, but his ego and mean nature destroyed lives of the members of his family.

Both Cholly and Willy Loman faced the dependence of one’s success on his or her personal looks. Though, in Death of a Salesman and The Bluest Eye this dependence was illustrated in different ways. Cholly suffered much because he was black and became victimized because of the racial tendencies of American society in that period. His unhappy fortune, lack of opportunity, moral and physical collapse were initially caused by the fact that black color of skin was considered to be ugly in the community. Cholly did not have a family, his mother left him wrapped in newspapers on a junk heap and his father rejected him later, when Cholly found him. Thus, due to his unlucky looks, Cholly became rootless. In his own turn, Cholly responded negatively to society that caused his suffering. He killed, was imprisoned, raped and abused, he lost his control and stepped on the path leading to his total collapse.

Willy Loman, on the other hand, overestimates the power of his appearance and did not rely on other possible factors of success, such as hard work or, efforts etc. Willy Loman is unable to accept miserable reality and happily deludes himself. He thinks that people surrounding him love him for his looks and value his ‘outstanding qualities’. At the same time Willy does not want to work with his hands as he believes that such kind of work is not socially respected. All his life Willy Loman fostered his ambitions and the feeling of self-importance, in this way being he found himself to be a blind servant of social expatiations. Willy’s illusions ended under the pressure of realities of his life. He explains to his son: “after all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.” (Miller, p.46). Finally, Willy Loman comes to understand that the product he sells in his society is himself. No ambitions and dreams will push oneself up the social ladder and produce the effect that can be achieved by a period of many years of hard work and painful efforts. One’s attractiveness alone is not yet a key to social success.

Additionally, the stories of Both Cholly and Willy Loman can be considered in the frames of the controversy: one’s individual freedom vs. community. Though, it is notable that the characters reveal the different aspects of this controversy. Cholly’s freedom resulted from the lack of his self-control. It is anti-social: “Cholly was free.  Dangerously free.  Free to feel whatever he felt-fear, guilt, shame, love, grief, piety.  He could go to jail and not feel imprisoned . . . for he had already killed three white men. He was free to live his fantasies, and free even to die.  In those days, Cholly was truly free.  There was nothing more to lose” (Morrison, p.159-60). Though the concept of such freedom is positive by itself, the fact that it was given to a man who does not know morals and does not possess high goals to apply it, turns this freedom into an instrument for achieving bad purposes.

Another view on freedom was suggested in the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman’s wife, Linda, thinks that freedom lays in material well-being and stability: escape for debt and total ownership of material goods. This idea of freedom together with the philosophy of attractiveness and lacking awareness of reality determine the final collapse of the protagonist of the play. Unlike Cholly, Willy Loman is much dependant on social imperatives. He can not find appropriate solutions in the opposition between one’s capabilities and desires. Willy has to deceive himself and other people about his capabilities in order to fit the dreams imposed on him by society. Loman’s individual freedom is constrained by the following demands and expectations: working with one’s hands is inferior to the position of a businessman; one’s attractiveness leads to the popularity among people of the opposite sex and thus adds to one’s social success; social success is closely connected with one’s welfare. But, nevertheless, being attractive and popular among weaker sex, being a businessman, Willy Loman finds himself in blind alley. His goals appeare to be fake, he has no other alternatives and freedom to follow them. Consequently, the protagonist of Death of a Salesman commits a suicide and nobody except his family comes to burry him. His life, as well as the life of Cholly, is a social failure and breakdown.

Bibliography:

1.      Miller, Arthur.  Death of a Salesman.  Penguin USA.1976.

2.      Morrison, Toni.  The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume: 1994.

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