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Charley tries to bring Willy down to earth by explaining that Willy’s fantasies about the way the business world functions conflict with the reality of a consumer economy. Charley refuses to relate to Willy through blustering fantasy; instead, he makes a point of being frank. He states that the bottom line of business is selling and buying, not being liked. Ironically, Charley is the only person to offer Willy a business opportunity on the strength of a personal bond; Howard, in contrast, fires Willy despitethe strong friendship that Willy shared with Howard’s father. However, the relationship between Willy and Charley is shaped by an ongoing competition between their respective families, at least from Willy’s point of view. Willy’s rejection of Charley’s job offer stems partly from jealousy of Charley’s success. Additionally, Willy knows that Charley does not like him much—his offer of a job thus fails to conform to Willy’s idealistic notions about business relationships. Willy chooses to reject a well-paying, secure job rather than let go of the myth of the American business world and its ever-receding possibilities for success and redemption.For Willy, the American Dream has become a kind of Holy Grail—his childish longing for acceptance and material proof of success in an attempt to align his life with a mythic standard has assumed the dimensions of a religious crusade. He places his faith in the elusive American Dream because he seeks salvation, and he blindly expects to achieve material, emotional, and even spiritual satisfaction through “personal attractiveness” and being “well liked.” Willy forces Biff and Happy into the framework of this mythic quest for secular salvation—he even calls them “Adonis” and “Hercules,” envisioning them as legendary figures whose greatness has destined them to succeed in according to the American Dream.Act II (continued)The scene in Frank’s Chop House
SummaryHappy banters with the waiter, Stanley. Happy is flirting with a pretty girl named Miss Forsythe when Biff arrives to join him. After she responds to his pick-up line by claiming that she is, in fact, a cover girl, Happy tells her that he is a successful champagne salesman and that Biff is a famous football player. Judging from Happy’s repeated comments on her moral character and his description of her as “on call,” Miss Forsythe is probably a prostitute. Happy invites her to join them. She exits to make a phone call to cancel her previous plans and to invite a girlfriend to join them. Biff explains to Happy that he waited six hours to see Oliver, only to have Oliver not even remember him. Biff asks where he got the idea that he was a salesman for Oliver. He had actually been only a lowly shipping clerk, but somehow Willy’s exaggerations and lies had transformed him into a salesman in the Loman family’s collective memory.