Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller
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Quotes

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained

Quote 5

He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine . . . A salesman is got to dream, boy.

Charley’s speech in the requiem about the nature of the salesman’s dreams eulogizes Willy as a victim of his difficult profession. His poetic assessment of sales defends Willy’s death, attributing to Willy’s work the sort of mythic quality that Willy himself always envisioned about it. Charley likens the salesman to a heroic, courageous sailor, “out there in the blue,” with nothing to guide him and powerful forces against which to contend. Charley also points out the great disparity between the enormity of the salesman’s task and the piddling tools with which he is equipped: Willy had only the insubstantial smile on his face and shine of his shoe with which to sell himself. Failure faded Willy’s smile and smudged his shoe, which made it even more difficult to sell himself. Lacking confidence in his image and thus “finished” psychologically, Willy still had to go out and give it his best, because “a salesman is got to dream.” Charley’s sympathy reveals itself in this remark—he understands that Willy didn’t simply feel compelled to sell; rather, Willy failed even to recognize that he had any choice in life.