Parental Love in Miller’s and Baldwin’s Plays

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Updated: May 24, 2021
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Parental Love in Miller’s and Baldwin’s Plays essay

“In the regular family life, there is often a lack of communication between parents and their children or between siblings. Although parental love is always present, children often misunderstand or are unaware of their parent’s love for them. This misunderstanding usually happens with the father’s love because of the difference of approach taken. Fathers often try to keep their strong figure as the head of the households and their love is usually implicit as, some may say, harsh. The theme of being harsh and distant is a them we can both see in the stories of family members such is father to son or between siblings. The short stories, Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin share a similar theme – the relationship between their family. The father-son relationship portrayed in each of these stories is awkward and distant, which later in the stories shows how this affected their personalities to the point of affecting their rational coherence towards decision making.

The stories both center in small families with restricted economical advantages with hopes of achieving a greater economic status one day. Sources of most of the conflict regarding both stories. Society has made a hole in the standard working force that people need to center their lives in work sometimes with the only purpose of achieving one day the high society that conform of the ones who make the decisions in today’s world. With this point explained, the reader can see how it reflects the desires of Willy in “Death of a Salesman” the narrator in “Sonny’s Blues”.

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Let us start with the relationship shown between Willy and Biff in the Death of a Salesman. Their relationship is one of self-realization in the part of Willy towards his oldest son Biff. Willy was unhappy with the life he had regarding mostly in his job position, which maintains the same for years and years. He wanted for his son, Billy, to excel in what he was able to without any concern if he liked it or not. Having this imposed into Biff he grows tired and starts exploring his own desires and dreams, even though he is unable to pursue them because of the “selfishness of his own father”, as he describes it. Is it really selfishness? It is most likely a bad way of showing interest in his son’s life.

Biff is Willie’s oldest son and one of the centerpieces of Death of a Salesman because most of the plot centers on his relationship with his father. Biff was a big shot football player in his high school years. This was also the time when Biff’s life started to take a different turn of events because he never put much effort into his schoolwork and failed math as a senior. A lot of this was due to the fact that Willy made him focus in other things like it is football and never pushed him to do well in school. We can determine that Willy had an obsession over Biff since his young years. This had a bad impact on Biff’s life towards future years when he entered into the workforce. Along with work related stuff, Willy also made Biff be rejecting in his social life in rewards to Bernard being one of the phew to be there for Biff regardless his treatment towards him. At the end of the day, biff was the one who decided who talk to but as a reader I am sure this is also influenced by Willy’s comment to some extent.

Unfortunately for Biff, Willy had more to do with his limitations of fixing his early mistakes. Things could have worked out for Biff even though he flunked math in high school. He could’ve taken a summer course and made everything alright. However, right about that time Biff caught his dad cheating on his mom, and made Biff mentally handled poorly. Once again, Willy had a bad effect on his son’s life. Biff bailed on summer school and the math credit. From there, he spiraled downward. He started working on ranches in the West, but he couldn’t hold a job because he kept stealing from his bosses. Until his older years, at the age of 34 years old, he was able to realize just how bad Willy messed up his future.

Even as Biff is in some approaches desperate to please his dad, he additionally realizes that Willy has wrong, materialistic desires that Biff is neither able nor wants to achieve. In contrast to his father and brother, Biff is self-conscious and values the truth. in a single shouting match with Willy, he says that he can’t preserve a job because his dad made him so arrogant as a boy that he can’t manage taking orders from someone such it is a boss in a job standard. sooner or later, the two have a moment of reality to speak up. yet, in spite of his insight and honesty, Biff is not able to communicate openly along with his father. Willy is without a doubt not able to just accept the reality of Biff desiring something different.

In this case, we can see the other half of the coin. Happy is Willie’s youngest son, and in comparison to Biff, he doesn’t get as much attention but has also been affected by the relationship with his dad. Willy never gives much attention to Happy’s accomplishment or nearly anything he does. Regarding these facts, Happy was always aspiring to fill his dad’s footsteps and have the same mentality of becoming rich fast. You can say that both of them are more similar than anything else. Despite his effort to please his father by being relatively good in the business world he never achieved praise from Willy. From these consecutive actions, he looks for more affection from his sex life, and then he becomes a womanizer, bringing a consecutive form of sadness into his life.

Happy has an interesting roll towards the end of the story. The reader can see how Happy always try to put himself up and try to get Willie’s approval over and over again during the script. It is interesting how Miller made this metaphoric irony between Happy’s name and what he is searching for his entire life. He becomes lost in work and women and realizes that nothing really satisfies him to aspire true happiness. Just as the saddest part of Willy’s suicide occurs, Happy continues with his father’s delusions. The saddest part of Happy’s ending is his own persistent misbelief of trying to please Willy. still driven by what he feels he ought to need (money, a wife), he sticks to Willy’s foolish dreams to the last of his day. Making Happy unaware of his true self and what he really wants out of life.

Here comes the story of Sonny a boy who grew up in Harlem and ended up as a heroin addict who ended up in jail. In comparison to his brother, that was able to get a profession and start a family of his own. Seen from the Narrator’s (brother) point of view we can see both sonny’s painful and story; as well as, the people he hurt the most who were the closest to him (his family). A brotherly relation broke up for years for the lack of communication and interest in a sort of way coming from the narrator’s part.

The Narrator is actually a good and caring person. He is in fact concerned what his brother Sonny has become and it hurts him the place he is at. The fact he disappears when Sonny needed him the most was more of a feeling of impotence for his brother not being able to stop everything on time. The narrator cuts communication with sonny and continues with his life. He reaches out back at him years later when he is finally being set free from jail just because her daughter has died. This turn of an event made these two brothers reach out once again. This story is mostly perceived differently by each individual reader. There are two different perspectives along the actions of Sonny’s story along the information is revealed. As the reader, we are shown the way of the events through the narrator’s point of view, even so, this is also taken a neutral approach to what had happened with Sonny. We are first given the life the narrator had as a math professor and how this blames himself and friend’s of sonny to recurate to drug use”

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Parental Love in Miller's And Baldwin's Plays. (2021, May 24). Retrieved from