In the books Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and Fences by August Wilson, there are common themes that run throughout the book. Among these are two, hard working men that can be a bit disillusioned by life. The main character of each book, Willy Loman and Troy Maxson are similar in many ways. They both try hard to be good men and fathers, but unfortunately, they are imperfect in both aspects. Troy distances his self from his youngest son, and many could say that he is too hard and cold towards him. Willy in a way believes that his grown sons could not have done any wrong when they were younger and do no wrong now. But these two fathers are not totally bad. There are many good personal traits that they both display in these books. But as stated as before, they weren’t perfect at all.
In many ways, both Willy and Troy were in fact good fathers. They worked hard to provide for their families and tried to set an example for their sons by their own actions. Willy was extremely supportive of Biff’s high school football success and went to all the games. Troy tries to instill certain values such as responsibility into his son Cory and explains to him that he shouldn’t go through life worrying if people like him or not. He tells him he takes care of him not because he likes him, but because it is his duty.
Troy seems to be a bad father more visibly. He does not encourage Cory’s high school football career in anyway, in fact he tells him to tell the scout he is not interested and thinks having a job is more important. His attitude toward Cory the majority of the time is cold and harsh, as if he regards his son as someone he must deal with and take care of.
Willy had a few problems of his own. First he let himself get caught with his mistress by his son, which devastated him. He also acted like his sons were perfect, which they weren’t. He should have made sure his son passed math so he could have graduated, but he put that into the hands of their next-door neighbor, Bernard. Willy also sets a bad example telling his sons that being “well-liked” is very important and holds it as a measure of success. He also leads them to believe that he is doing well financially, when in fact he is not. He has to get $50 from his next-door neighbor and Bernard’s father Charley.
Although Willy and Troy weren’t the best or worse fathers they did raise their sons. The outcome of these men are different, however. Cory, who did not have a good father-son relationship or interaction with Troy moved out and joined the United States Marine Corps. Seven years later he returns for Troy’s funeral, no doubt successful and providing for himself. Biff and Happy, on the other hand, who both had a pretty decent relationship with their father ended up with menial jobs living with their parents at the age of 34. Happy is a philanderer with horrible ethics that sleeps with his supervisors’ girlfriend. Biff is unable to hold a steady job and has a new money making idea every week.
It is hard to judge both Willy and Troy as good or bad if we aren’t in their shoes. Whether others may agree or disagree, it can be said that both fathers raised their sons the best that the could under their circumstances and most likely the best they knew how. The outcome of a person does not wholly depend on his or her parent. Their outlook on life and how much they want to accomplish while on this earth are other factors
Courtney from Study Moose
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