Salesman August Willow’s Fences depicts the life of a former Negro League baseball player turned sanitation worker Troy Manson and the relationships he has with the people around him. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman mainly focuses on the tragically unsuccessful life of Wily Leman and the impact he has on his family. In this essay I will examine these characters and their impacts on their loved ones. In the story Fences, Troy Manson exemplifies an African American subjected to much wrongdoing and subsequently disgruntled by the “White Man”.
He was a Negro League baseball player in his younger days, however, when the Major Leagues began accepting African Americans; he was too old to participate. He then becomes a sanitation worker as a garbage lifter and is also unsatisfied in this position because there are no African American garbage truck drivers and he feels he deserves to be promoted. Troy frequently criticizes the lives and choices of his family. Manson repeatedly refuses to accept or even respect his son Lyons decision to become a Jazz musician.
He says that his wife’s (as well as his son’s) affinity for the lottery is simply “throwing our money away’. He even goes so far as to tell his son’s football coach that he can no longer play simply because he lied about working when he was actually at football practice. During all his criticism Troy remains indifferent to his own situation. He calls his son’s Jazz “Chinese music” because he doesn’t understand it which only reveals (other than the obvious racial discrimination and disrespect) he is ignorant to facets of his own culture.
He has recently been promoted to being a garbage truck driver; however, he doesn’t know how to drive. He speaks about the cost of his wife and son ambling by playing the lottery while he is making a gamble of his own by cheating on his wife. In Death of a Salesman, Wily Leman represents a man wildly in pursuit of the American Dream, even though he doesn’t ever actually achieve it. His desperation eventually leads to the loss of his own sanity as he begins to have conversations with his dead brother about the success he desires for his family.
He is a traveling salesman who makes little more than enough money to cover his family. Wily, much like Troy, frequently criticizes his own family but also criticizes his neighbors seemingly in an effort to mask his own insecurities. He tells his wife that his son Biff is a lazy bum. He tells his neighbor Charley that “a man who can’t handle tools isn’t a man” then proceeds to call him “disgusting”. Wily tells his sons they will be more successful than the neighbor’s son because he isn’t “well liked”. Wily, likely due to his delusional tendencies, repeatedly contradicts himself throughout the story.
He tells his wife “nothing happened” while driving home from work, then says he nearly ran a child over. He says his car is worthless, then says it’s “the best car ever built”. He says he is well liked, and then says people often make fun of him. In both stories, the main character believes themselves to be both great fathers and husbands. While this is quite contrary to the truth, because they both cheat on their wives with no sense of guilt afterwards, as well as diminish the chances of success for one of their sons.
Troy Mason’s adultery led to an illegitimate daughter, whom he had to bring into his home and inform his family of his extramarital activities. Wily Loan’s adultery didn’t lead to another child; however his son did discover the betrayal. Troy’s decision to remove his son from the school football team and refusal to sign his college oddball permission slip caused him to be unable to play for the college team. Biffs discovery of his father’s affair caused him to lose the hope to fulfill the dreams his father had for him.
Both Troy Manson and Wily Leman die in their respective stories shortly before the end of the plays. Troy has a heart attack while swinging a baseball bat in his backyard. Wily drives off in a fit of rage going full speed and consequently dies crashing the car. I believe this is done to show how their actions as well as their determination to remain set in their ways led to their downfall. Both characters were in general static throughout the story with the way they were portrayed at the beginning. This self- rejection, unbeknownst to both of them, basically set the stage for their deaths.
Troy’s bleak outlook on life and the potential of change led him to be angry. He was angry at the Major Leagues for waiting until he was too old to play to begin accepting African Americans. He was angry at Cord for trying to go into sports when it hadn’t worked out for him in the past. He was angry at Lyons for trying to be something as tough as a musician in the day and age in which they lived. That anger led him to perish in his way of fighting everything he could. Willis excess of pride and refusal face reality ultimately led him to take his own life.
He refused to take the Job from his neighbor Charley out of his pride to not take charity from another. He continually verbally abused his wife whenever she attempted to correct him. He had such a hard time facing reality he began having hallucinations of his dead brother talking to him and giving him advice. Troy and Willis deaths had a great deal of significance and symbolism in their own right. Their deaths symbolize the need for people to change; t says that refusal to accept someone else’s differences or your own flaws leads to your own destruction.
The deaths of Troy Manson and Wily Leman and the time leading up to them changed the people around them. Some people changed to be much different from the main character, seemingly a sort of defiance against all they were. While others changed to be more like the main character, as if in memoriam of who they once were. Troy’s son Lyons is an example of the latter, he got into trouble like his dad once did, and getting some time in Jail for it but continuing on his way to come a musician with newfound compatriots with which he plans on starting a band.
Cord, Troy’s other son has grown into a man and a soldier; he even became able to gain some semblance of respect for his father and attend his funeral even though he initially didn’t intend to. Troy’s wife Rose became stronger for having loved Troy; she analyzed how she had lived with Troy as what she desired when she met him and how she had recently lost touch with him. Willis son Biff became extremely different from him in the aspect that he was able to face his reality. He was able to accept himself and his father and he understands his need to change. His brother Happy however, became infinitely more like their father.
He adopted that same drive towards the “American Dream” and away from reality that had plagued his father for years. Though the most change of all was displayed in Linda, Will’s former wife. She stated that she was “unable to cry’ for Willis death. That he had “escaped” when it was almost over already. She said that now for the first time they were finally “free” The lives and deaths of Troy Manson and Wily Leman had huge effects of the people they came into contact with. These stories showed how significant a person can be as a husband, a friend, and a father.