In the environment dominated by class ideology and materialism, the Loman family in Death of a Salesman finds itself in a quark mire of having to break the usual believe that the society could only be shaped by material possession. As a voice of change, Willy tries to strike a balance between his two children finding job in the city and enter the middle class and a selfless lot of young people who are not manipulated by material possession (Miller 5)
In essence, Willy and his sons struggle to portray a society that is not reliant on material possession, Charley and his son Bernard have a crucial role to play even as minor characters. This is because the two represent a complete opposite of what the Loman family believes; not only in terms of ideologies, but also in the way the two families articulate their views. As such, Charley and Bernard stand out in the play as successful people. They are successful in various ways which are discussed in this essay, because they represent the other standpoint of the society, contrary to that represented by the Loman family.
Charlie and his son turn out to be the voices of reason to the Loman family. He is portrayed as a successful middle class member, and, thus, he and his son are important in the play. Moreover, of key importance is their role as the devil’s ambassador to the family. Loman family seems to have stagnated in poverty, with grown up sons not able to secure any meaningful income generating activity in their lives (Miller 12).
Character-wise, Bernard is important in bringing out the fate in people’s lives. We are informed that Biff was a successful footballer and a handsome young man who could attract a lot of women. On the contrary, despite Bernard’s lackluster young life, he turns out to be quite helpful to Biff at school. He goes ahead to make a living as a lawyer and becomes very successful. Similarly, Willy’s wife admires Charley for being humble, faithful and honest (Miller 12). In this illustration, Charley helps to bring out the contrast that exists in the society, which the individual people cannot have control over. Willy is 60 years old, yet he has to travel to the city to work, while Charley, who is successful in business, works from home.
It is clear that in a materialistic society, successful people tend to despise those who are less fortunate. However, through Charley’s family, the play has presented a contrary situation. Even though Charley and his son are successful as compared to the Loman family, they remain humble and even offer to assist the family, as envisaged by Bernard’s continued reminder to Biff to work hard. Willy also borrows money from his friend, whom he spitefully looks down to (Miller 48). It is ironic that people who have failed to make an impact in society still blame others for their failure, as depicted by Willy’s refusal to acknowledge his friend. Charley and Bernard come out as voices of reason in a society characterized by finger pointing. Willy fails to advice his family well and does not appreciate the little that has been achieved by his children, even in light of the fact that his children were declining in their talents of sports and intelligence.
Additionally, Charley and Bernard are important since they represent the formation of a perfect family in a society where the family values and definition are quickly fading away (Miller 36). Bernard is happily married and has two children. In addition, he has a thriving career as a lawyer. On the other hand, the Loman family is the opposite of Charley’s. Willy himself is uncertain of his future life and lies to his family about everything. He doesn’t seem to agree on anything and on several occasion brags about his house. Additionally, he does not appreciate blue collar jobs, even though he has a strong desire to have more in life. Despite this, Charley and Bernard do not look down upon this family and when Willy is dismissed from his work, Charley offers to assist him without considering his arrogance.
Furthermore, Charley and Bernard are important in presenting the kind of relationship that can thrive between parents and children. In the play, Charley does augur well with his son Bernard, and this has immensely contributed to the success of Bernard. On the other hand, Willy does not appreciate what his children have achieved. For instance, he wonders that his son Biff is not able to make thirty five dollars a week after ten years. An attempt by his wife to convince him that their son is still finding himself fails, as he sarcastically tells his son that “not finding yourself at the age of thirty five is disgrace” (Miller7). Charley and Bernard are, thus, important since they help to bring out the opposite when it comes to relationship between parents and their children.
In the midst of despair and arrogance, Willy decides to take his own life. He does this despite the voice of reason as exemplified in Charley. In fact, Charley unsuccessfully tries to help Willy to realize that he has a lot to live for, but this is too late. Even though Charley is depicted as an influential person, he realized that only Willy can make the decision about what exactly he wants to do with his life.
In this play, it is evident that Charley and Bernard, even though they are minor actors, depict the other part of a society. They stand out as the voice of reason amidst disgruntlement and dissatisfaction of others. The two have managed to bring out the issue of success and reason in a society that is plagued by materialism and manipulation as depicted in Miller’s Death of a Salesman.