Happy in Death of a Salesman: Character Analysis

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English from Mississippi State University. She holds a Mississippi AA Educator License.

Willy Loman's youngest son Happy is a womanizer who inflates his fragile self-esteem by claiming success that he has not achieved. Despite his promises to change his life and please Willy, he cannot save him.

Who Is Happy Loman?

Happy Loman is Willy and Linda Loman's son in Death of a Salesman. Happy is thirty-two years old, younger than his brother Biff by two years. Happy emulates his father in many ways, believing Willy's theory that success comes from being well liked. His life seems overshadowed by Biff's accomplishments, and Willy focuses on Biff's prospects throughout the play. Happy's spiel is patterned after Willy's salesman's patter. He beefs up his accomplishments and brags about his sexual conquests, though his life has not amounted to much.

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  • 0:03 Who Is Happy Loman?
  • 0:38 Happy's Accomplishments
  • 1:21 Happy's Women
  • 2:12 Happy and Willy
  • 3:09 Lesson Summary
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Happy's Accomplishments

The dream of success fails Happy. Though he possesses all the material adornments of success, he admits to feeling unfulfilled. 'I don't know what the hell I'm workin' for. Sometimes I sit in my apartment - all alone. And I think of the rent I'm paying. And it's crazy. But then, it's what I always wanted. My own apartment, a car, and plenty of women,' Happy confides to Biff.

Perhaps his disenchantment lies in the reality that he finally admits when Biff confronts him. Happy has been claiming to be an assistant buyer until Biff says, 'You big blow, are you the assistant buyer? You're one of the two assistants to the assistant, aren't you?' None of the material possessions he has accumulated can shield him from the reality of his position in the business world.

Happy's Women

Happy is a womanizer, but he speaks with disdain of the women he has conquered. Early in the play, as he and Biff are going to sleep in the room they shared as children, the brothers talk about their sexual conquests. Happy remembers the woman with whom he had his first sexual encounter: 'Yeah, that was my first time - I think. Boy, there was a pig!' On another occasion, he brags shamelessly about his conquest of a woman in his office who is engaged to another man.

Later, when he and Biff meet Willy for dinner, Willy is emotionally overwrought. Their father has just learned that he has been fired, yet Happy and Biff desert their father at the restaurant so they can pursue sex with the women they've just met. 'Your boys left with the chippies,' the waiter tells Willy. Happy places his own desires above his overwrought father's needs, and the women he pursues are merely objects to him.

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