Willy Loman is a salesperson and Biff is a salesperson’s kid. A great deal of what some salespersons do is pump up the things they are selling with a lot of hot air; today this is called buzz. Well, for Willy, his first-born child, Biff, is whatever worldwide. Even back when Biff was a football star in high school, Willy wasn’t doing too well any longer as a salesman. This fact made him exhausted and depressed, but at least there was Biff.
Biff was somebody who Willy could believe in and appreciate when whatever else was dissatisfaction. Therefore Willy used Biff as the repository of all of his hopes and dreams … and he pumped his kid full to the brim with his expectations and praise. How did Biff require to all this adulation? It appears he loved it and thought it. One may assume, however, as he developed, Biff could have thought his dad went a bit over board with his appreciation of him, and he might have started to presume that his dad lived through him.
The number of times have we seen the parents of high school athletes who are more competitive at school sporting events than their own kids? Why do you suppose that is? What do their kids think of it? With this symbiotic relationship as the background, Biff’s trip to Boston ends up being much more horrific. Biff has failed mathematics, and he goes to Boston, where his daddy is supposedly working, to get Willy to come house and convince the teacher to change his grade. There, in the Boston hotel, Biff discovers his daddy with a woman.
It is clear to Biff what is going on, and he breaks down best then and there. All the years and years of hot air and hype disappear, and Biff is entrusted to nothing but tears and bitter disappontment in his dad … and in himself. As Death of a Salesperson begins, Biff has returned home after years of searching for himself, the real self far from his daddy’s hopes and dreams for him, far from his dad’s attempt to endure him. In the end, Biff comes to terms with who he is, and Willy commits suicide … still imagining Biff’s long-awaited success and achievement.