We all have a vision of America, more most this vision includes rolling plains of grass and mountainous forests, however for most Americans this is not what we see every day. Our lives are mostly have up of city or suburban streets and endless highways. In Death of a Salesman, Willy, grew up and built his house out in the open grasses, however his dream of America was boxed in by the city. However some think that Willy’s dream was not crushed by the city, but that his dreams were mistaken from the start, and that Willy was expecting too much from America.
Willy’s ideal dream of an American life is to have a home to raise his boys where the sun is bright and the air is clean. Throughout the play Willy comes back to the subject of how he cannot plant anything and have it grow. He wants to be able to put some seeds in the ground and have food for his family. However the city Willy lives in blocks most of his dreams. The tall buildings block light from reaching his garden and the roads pump dirty air into his house, but does Willy have the right to complain about how everyone else has ruined his dream?
Or is he at fault for his situation. The first thing to remember is that Willy was planning on moving to Alaska; this would have given him his dream of raising a family and planting his own food, but he backed out. He left that dream to become a salesman, all because he saw that another man was make tons of easy money. So it seems that money was worth more to Willy that his dreams. So, in order to have his dream job of being a salesman, Willy, had to move to a place where the job was needed, so Willy moved to New York.
At the time he moved there he was still far away from the noise of the concrete jungle, in a place that gave him all he wanted, however the city was growing, and growing fast. Before long the tall building started to pop up around him, and he blamed the city for not making a law against apartment buildings, when he should have seen the wave of urbanization racing toward him. Willy had a good dream, but the place he decided was right, only looked right, and it did not stay the way it was.
Willy’s dream was flawed, he wanted the best of both worlds, and it simply was not possible for him to have. America is not a concrete jungle, the open plains are still there, I have seen them. The face of the earth has not been paved over. However the money has moved to the areas where there are more radio antennas than trees. One can still live out in the open fields of America, and work to grow their own food, but it is not easy. Willy saw only the easy money and not the life that came with it.
He wanted the free life, but he thought he could get away with not needing to do the hard work. Willy tried to make his dream work, and for many years he succeeded, but the end was always in sight. During one of Willy’s flashbacks we see what his life once was, there are trees and gardens growing right outside his house, and hills of grass just over the fence, as the boys play ball in the yard. And his dreams could have still been possible had he only moved further away from the city, but Willy must have known that his idea of an American life, the one that he grew up with, was dieing.
And when it died it would be replaced with the dream of finding one’s riches in the heart of a concrete jungle. So willy knew that to make the best life for his sons he had to let his dream die so that they could start on their dreams for making it rich in the city. This explains the anger that Willy feels when Biff leaves the city to work on a farm, because Willy have given up that idea to let Biff live in the city, Willy is jealous of the life that Biff is starting, but all the same time he knows that it is no longer a life every man can live.
Planning for the future is important, we might not like what the future holds, but we must plan for it anyway. In Willy’s case he planned for a life of urban working, and he had to sacrifice his dreams. But Willy did not want to let go of his dreams, he tried to make them work in the city, he tried planting vegetables, and had two tall trees in his yard. However the plants all died, just as the dream he had was dieing in the city.
Willy continues using his hands and building up the house, but it cannot recreate the dream he had. We live in a world that is changing, and no matter where we go the wheel of change is right behind us, and it is hard to stay out of its way. Willy, like many, could not keep up with the wheel, and found himself living in the city. The dream of a free American life away from the concrete jungle is hard, you need power, perseverance, and plenty of luck, but it is still alive for those who can find it.