Biff, Happy, and Blame - The Grange School Blogs
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Biff and Willy Blame
To a certain extent Biff blames his father for him not succeeding in the cult of personality, and not being able to get an ideal job. However, the idealistic job is only put in place by Willy’s beliefs that an ideal job is one in the business world. So from the very start both the reader and Biff understand that he will not be a success in willy’s eyes if he doesn’t follow this belief, even if he himself does not believe in it “I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody! That’s whose fault it is!” He is pinning the blame of his failed life on the way that Willy brought him up. He is indicating that Willy brought him up to be an arrogant and unemployable person. Willy expected so much popularity and success from Biff, and these expectations didn’t just push biff to be the kleptomaniac we find out he has been since a young age, but also may be the initiation of the downfall of Willy Loman himself as he can’t help but think that all this failure that Biff has experienced is to spite him.
The audience and the other characters find out nearing the end of the play that Biff is a kleptomaniac “I stole a suit in Kansas city and I was in jail” This is a point where Biff is trying to be honest to his family not liking how Happy has tried to make him lie in the past or how Willy has lied to he family about his affair. This is a confession to his mental deterioration and the way that Biff presents it shows that he takes responsibility for the error of his ways. “I’m not blaming it on you” Biff senses that Willy feels the way that he has grown up has been to “spite” his father but his long speech at the end of the play expresses a love that he had for his father throughout all he and Willy did. Biff understands that he has made mistakes; “We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house” It seems he is encouraging others to come forward about the lies and deceit and accept the blame for the wrong they have done, within the family in order to gain a family understanding of what he and everyone else are going through.
When Biff see’s Willy with the other woman, he looses the will to succeed, and he decides not to go to university, “I’m not going there”. It is this point in the play where Biff makes a conscious decision not to pursue his dreams, and thus becomes a failure that willy never wanted him to be. Its this point that he looses his respect for his father. However, it is apparent to us that although he lost respect for him, he loved him all the way through. “[he breaks down, sobbing, holding on to Willy]” Biff and Willy are similar in the fact that they both feel they have failed but in actual fact haven't. For example, Wily values the cult of personality and being well liked. But the most important thing, his family has been there, loving him, the whole time. When he was believing he was not well liked, in actual fact his whole family loved him dearly, and he realises this towards the end of the play “Isn’t that – isn’t that remarkable, biff- he likes me” This quote is what makes it apparent to the reader just how much Biff loves his father, and that the reason he didn’t go to university was because he lost faith in his father, and wanted to make his own success, not just to please his father.
“This Saturday, pop, this Saturday-just for you, I’m going to break through for a touch down.” This is evidence that at this point in Biff’s life his main purpose is to try and impress willy who values the wrong things “the man who makes appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.” This means that Biff has grown up trying to impress somebody who has the view that the only important thing in life is to be well liked. This is in fact untrue, and so when Biff gets out into the real world, he is not equipped with the skills needed to be successful. This pins a large proportion of the blame of Biffs failures on Willy, as it is Willy who Biff was trying to impress by growing up with a sense of arrogance and belief that lack of effort is OK so long as you’re popular and physically fit.
The only reason the reader sees biff as a failure is because he is presented as being a failure by willy. In actual fact, in biffs eyes, he is happy as all he wanted to do was work outdoors with his hands. To biff this is successful but to willy success is more to do with the cult of personality. Biff didn’t fail himself, he failed his father. “What am I doing in an office making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself” This quote is proof that all Biff wanted to do with is life is work outdoors , and he never wanted to work in an office; “we don’t belong in this nuthouse of a city” Biff is chasing the dream that Willy has for him, instead of his own dreams. This dream, however, is only held by Willy because he feel he should have it as it is the collective American dream.