Biff Loman displays only a small measure of his youthful confidence, enthusiasm, and affection. More often, he appears troubled, frustrated, and sad. The name ‘Biff’ gives an appearance of a tough man, but in the play ‘Death of a Salesman’, Biff is a flawed character who is the opposite of the appearance his name gives. Although he is a flawed character, he manages to succeed at one thing that Willy was not able to, which is acknowledging his failures, rather than dreaming of something he is not able to achieve.
As Willy Loman’s oldest son, Biff got most of his father’s attention. He was once a high school football idol, but did not put much effort into school work, failing math in his last year. Without the math credit, going to University of Virginia was not an option. Discovering that his dad was having an affair with another woman when he travelled to Boston, Biff gave up not only going to summer school to recover his math credit, but also going to his dream university.
Biff’s perception of Willy as the ideal father is destroyed after the trip to Boston. The affair of his dad was the point in Biff’s life where everything started to spiral down, and Biff starts to reject Willy and his philosophy of becoming successful if you’re “well-liked”. No matter how much Biff wants to get away from being Willy Loman’s son, it is something he cannot do. No matter how much Biff vouches no to be like his father, it is something he cannot run away from.
Willy’s two sons were both brought up as a child to have materialistic dreams, and to impress and please their father. Biff was desperate to please and impress Willy, but he realizes that the way he was brought up was flawed like his father. Also, he realizes that he did not want or is able to achieve the materialistic dreams that both Willy and Happy want to achieve so much. Unlike Willy and Happy, Biff is self-aware and takes a great value in the truth.
In one of the scenes in the play, Biff shouts at Willy saying that he can’t hold a job because his dad made him very arrogant as a boy, that he can’t handle orders from a boss. Also, Biff is seen throughout the play stealing. Biff blames Willy for not giving him the proper guidance when he was caught stealing as a child. This gave an insight of Biff’s honesty and his true personality that he is not able to express himself, in the play, to Willy. Even so, Willy is not able to accept the truth, making Biff unable to communicate with Willy.