Death of a Salesman and Fences are plays about the lives of two male protagonists, Willy Lowman and Troy Maxson, respectively. The protagonists have a strong influence on each of their sons during the scenes of the play. As their sons grow up, they are affected by their relationship with their fathers. Each son’s success in life as a man can be observed as inversely related to his relationship with his father when he was young. One affiliation is a positive one, but the son is unsuccessful, and one is negative, but the son is successful.
In Death of a Salesman, Willy and his son, Biff, have a respectable father and son relationship.
Willy always encourages his son and tries to teach him life lessons to live by. Willy has a philosophy that being well-liked leads to success. This philosophy stems from Willy’s idolization of Dave Singleman Dave Singleman is a legendary salesman who in his lifetime was so was well esteemed that all he had to do was pick up the phone from his hotel room, call his clients, and he would make the sale. After meeting Mr. Singleman, Willy knew that being revered was key to achieving success in the business world. This philosophy is what Willy tries to engrave in Biff. He makes Biff believe that school is not important and grades won’t get him as far as being popular.
Willy tells Biff this by comparing him to Bernard, who is Biff’s friend and is academically gifted. “Bernard can get the best mark in school, understand, but when he gets out in the business world, understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him” (Miller 33). Biff believes what his Willy says because he trusts his dad and looks up to him like most sons do with their fathers. This belief in being well-liked is also why Willy encourages Biff to become a football player and not to focus on school. He believes through football Biff will be a star hotshot and this will ultimately lead to his success.