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.
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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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 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.
Happy and Willy
Despite his treatment of Willy at the restaurant, Happy is concerned about Willy's emotional disintegration. Happy wants to please Willy, and he's bought into Willy's big dreams. He tries to get Biff to embellish the story of his encounter with Bill Oliver, primarily to give Willy a reason to hope for a few more days. Willy has pinned all his hopes for Biff's success on Biff's meeting with Oliver. Biff once worked for Oliver and had hoped to borrow $10,000 from him to start a business with Happy. Happy knows the meeting was disastrous, but he wants Willy to hold on to his dreams of his sons' success for as long as possible.
Immediately prior to Willy's suicide, Happy makes one last attempt to offer his father something that will please him. 'I'm getting married, Pop, don't forget it. I'm changing everything. I'm gonna run that department before the year is up,' Happy claims. Willy has other plans, however, and Happy is unable to delay Willy's inevitable suicide any longer.
Let's recap. Despite his name, Happy Loman is a very unhappy young man. He has an apartment, car, and women, yet these are just objects to him. Happy has not achieved the success he had hoped for at work, though he inflates his position to make himself look better. He is Willy Loman's son in the truest sense, emulating his father's pursuit of success through social contacts. Happy is disrespectful toward the women he pursues, and he lets his father down at a critical moment in his life. Happy does, however, show genuine concern at times about his father's downward spiral.
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Happy in Death of a Salesman: Character Analysis
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