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The Loman Family and Their Problems of the SpiritIn his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech William Faulkner lamented the dearth of problems of the spirit in modern literature and pointed out the importance of the old universal truthslove and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice in weaving a successful meaningful story Faulkner placed these human traits into a genus all their own and labeled it the human heart in conflict with itself Part of the reason Arthur Millers play Death of a Salesman remains relevant more than fifty years after its first publication is that the story embodies all of Faulkners universal truths The Loman family is the archetype of the human heart in conflict with itselfAt first glance Willy Loman is a selfish unloving man His pride in his son Biffs athletic endeavors is less due to love than it is to vicarious self-validation and he virtually ignores his younger and less agile son Happy Youre my foundation and my support Linda is probably the closest hes come to actually saying I love you to his wife in years 1640 And as Linda darns her stockings until there is no more original material to repair Willy presents boxes of brand-new silk stockings to his mistress in another city In short Willy seems to be a self-absorbed jerk Upon closer examination however Willys conflict of the heart becomes more apparent Willy is a man of the 1950s He is steered by pre-feminist gender roles that dictate acceptable ways for men to show love the cardinal rule being that physical affection means nothing if a man cannot provide for his family As he struggles to remain successful in a changing business environment Willy worries that his failures will be translated by Linda as a lack of love I get the feeling that Ill never sell anything again he says that I wont make a living for you or a business a business for
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