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Compare the father-son relationships in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe [Okonkwo & Nwoye] and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller [Willy & Biff].

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Introduction

Compare the father-son relationships in 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe [Okonkwo & Nwoye] and 'Death of a Salesman' by Arthur Miller [Willy & Biff]. The father-son relationships in 'Things Fall Apart' and 'Death of a Salesman' are extremely similar. 'Death of a Salesman' is set in New York, in the late 1940's. It is about Willy Loman, a salesman in his late 60s, his wife Linda and his two sons Biff and Happy. Willy Loman is a thorough believer of the concept of the American Dream, but he holds on to it so tightly that everything in his life falls apart. He wished so much for his son Biff to be successful, but when Biff finds Willy cheating on his mother, he himself loses all faith and now, in his early thirties, he has no wife or children and jumps from one job to the next. In the end, Willy commits suicide. "Things Fall Apart" is set in Umuofia, what is now Nigeria, in the late 19th century, and it is about Okonkwo, who has risen from nothing to a very high position. ...read more.

Middle

Biff is a 'failure' in Willy's eyes, because Biff finished high school with a promising future, but fails anyway in the end ["Biff Loman is lost. In the greatest country in the world a young man with such - personal attractiveness, gets lost." Act 1]. Following up on this: both Nwoye and Biff refuse to follow in their father's footsteps. Nwoye doesn't approve of the harsh aspect of the Igbo culture - for example throwing away twins in the evil forest] - because he feels that it is completely unnecessary: he questions whether this faith can really be the only one. Okonkwo believes because of this that Nwoye is weak and feminine, and he never stops wishing that Nwoye were different, more like him: he wants Nwoye to be successful in life, and the only way for his son to be successful in his eyes is for him to become a great warrior like himself. Nwoye does not want this, just as Biff is not happy with becoming a salesman. ...read more.

Conclusion

difference is that Okonkwo was a very successful man in the clan ["Okonkwo was well...from Umuofia to Mbaino." P.3], while Willy is not. [I am not...buck an hour! Act 2]. There are, however, many more similarities between the two relationships. Both fathers have too high expectations for their sons - Nwoye just doesn't have the personality his father wants him to have, and Biff gives up after he sees that the man he idolizes (his father) is cheating on his mother - and both sons have bad relationships with their fathers. Both sons also want their fathers to believe in them. Biff just wishes for his father to believe in him in what he wants to do, not what Willy wants him to do, and Nwoye just wants for his father to be proud of him: everything he does he does to please his father. In conclusion, the relationships between father and son in both of these books are very similar, which suggests that this is a feature of human behavior: it also suggests that relationships are similar no matter what the society may be like. Inez Schroder Tuesday, April 27, 2010 English Comparing the Father-Son relationships ...read more.

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