Saturday, August 30, 2014


Happy has always been the son I've been more interested in in this play.  He reminds me of Gooper in Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", the thankless job of being the "other brother", the brain instead of the brawn.  Not like their fathers, or at least who their fathers used to be, but getting things done instead of being a handsome disappointment.  Happy has another level to him with his interesting relationship with Linda.  The parents take money from their youngest son and expect his support in arguments (which he readily gives) but Linda loudly disapproves of his lifestyle and while not as openly preferring Biff as their father does, doesn't show support for Happy.  This leads to Happy taking up lying about success he's had just to get some bit of favor from his parents.  No matter how much Biff screws up, Happy is told to grow up.  
Many times in stories that deal with masculinity especially as it passes from father to son, the mother is frequently sympathetic or favors the son their father ignores.  Happy gets no such support, despite saying home and helping the family while Biff runs away to "figure things out".  
Happy is the son that stays and works while the prodigal leaves with the money and favor, only to return home and have the fatted calf.  In the biblical "Prodigal Son" story, the father tells his older son "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." this is never something that is true for Happy. Despite even going into a business profession, like his father, unlike Biff who works the land in order to "find himself", Happy is a complete outcast from the world Willy has so desperately tried to create.  By casting out one of his sons (and thereby "happiness") Willy creates more anguish now not only for himself, but for his younger son as well.  

1 comment:

  1. You bring up some excellent points! I feel Biff deviates from the truth to protect his father. Instead of blatantly opposing the delusion held by Willy, Biff perverts the veracity of his father's unattainable dream. In a sense, Biff is crippling his father.
    I absolutely love your reference to the "Prodigal Son." It appears as though Willy wants his boys to transcend his dreams into their own. He does not see the detriment to come. Overall, I feel that parental pressures are extremely relevant, in today's society, more than ever. Great post!