Saturday, January 7, 2012

Does Linda help or hinder Willy in overlooking his small sales and his dishonest attempts to make them seem bigger? How else does she influence Willy? Discuss Linda's remark, "Attention---attention must finally be paid to such a man!" What is the effect of the switch in Linda's speech to this very formal statement? Why does Miller use it?

What Linda does is more complicated than simply helping or hindering Willy in overlooking his small sales and dishonest attempts to make them seem bigger. She is Willy's backbone, his support, unwavering and always there for him. In a way, by overlooking Willy's lies, she might be doing more harm than good because Willy already seems to be heavily out of touch with reality, and Linda's encouraging the continuance of this behavior by overlooking it is not beneficial to them in any way. Yet they manage to make it as a family, in terms of money. Through thick and thin, Linda stands by Willy and tolerates his eccentricities and he needs that kind of support, though he may not acknowledge this fact. He's had a hard life, chasing an effervescent dream that always appears just a little out of reach. In this way, she helps Willy and simultaneously hinders him in some fashion.

A woman has a significant amount of pull with her husband, even in the 1930s when women were still viewed as inferior to men and treated with different standards. Linda is no exception when it comes to Willy Loman. Linda keeps her husband on track, and calms him down when necessary. She acts as a buffer at times for his wild, bipolar emotions. She offers him the emotional support he needs, never insulting him and treating him with kindness and respect even when he snaps and yells at her. She more than simply supports Willy as his backbone, however. It could be said Linda holds together the stitchings of Willy's life as she holds together the stitchings of his clothing in her efforts to mend them.

Linda understands that what Willy craves is recognition and attention for all his efforts as a salesman, just like he's seen other salesmen receive repsect and recognition. Indeed, her comment "Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person." reflects on her awareness of Willy's desperate dreams, and her goals to help her husband reach them if possible. Linda knows that Willy may not be the greatest man, but he has tried his hardest to be the best man. For herself, for their children, and for his company. She wants his efforts to be recognized before he dies. Addressing her sons in a short speech, Linda explains that Willy must not "be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog," and that though he may not be the finest character that ever lived, he's a human being and attention is due to him for that reason. This change in Linda's speech drew attention to her most important point she was trying to make. It could be said that Miller did this on purpose to ensure the readers grasped the important concept. It is also possible that Miller used this statement to express his own ideas on how every man deserves some type of recognition, at the very least for sticking a hard life through and trying to accomplish his dream. It does take someone strong and resilient to persevere when a powerful possibility of failure seems apparent. Perhaps Miller commends Willy (Everyman) for having a dream, even though the dream never came to be. Not everyone has to be a star to deserve some basic recognition, and Willy was no star. Sixty-three year old Willy Loman deserved some basic recognition.

1 comment:

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