My reasons for reading Arthur Miller are pretty shallow:
He was married to Marilyn Monroe.
Admission aside, this past week I revisited the Loman family.
It’s amazing how the Occupy Movement, a not so tongue in cheek article from Cracked.com, and Death of a Salesman have in common.
The Occupy Movement:
The little I know is that it features the 99% who want equality and fairness in wages and living conditions. As I learned two weeks ago, life ain’t fair. These occupiers have taken to sleeping in public places and causing all kinds of ruckus. When they celebrated their two month anniversary by blocking Wall Street and disrupting public transportation I could only think of the scene from Clerks when two characters discuss the deaths of the ‘innocent’ when the Death Star is blown up:
Randal Graves: [talking about the second Death Star] A construction job of that magnitude would require a helluva lot more manpower than the Imperial army had to offer. I’ll bet there were independent contractors working on that thing: plumbers, aluminum siders, roofers.
Dante Hicks: Not just Imperials, is what you’re getting at…
Randal Graves: Exactly. In order to get it built quickly and quietly they’d hire anybody who could do the job. Do you think the average storm trooper knows how to install a toilet main? All they know is killing and white uniforms.
Dante Hicks: All right, so even if independent contractors are working on the Death Star, why are you uneasy with its destruction?
Randal Graves: All those innocent contractors hired to do a job were killed – casualties of a war they had nothing to do with.
[notices Dante’s confusion]
Randal Graves: All right, look-you’re a roofer, and some juicy government contract comes your way; you got the wife and kids and the two-story in suburbia – this is a government contract, which means all sorts of benefits. All of a sudden these left-wing militants blast you with lasers and wipe out everyone within a three-mile radius. You didn’t ask for that. You have no personal politics. You’re just trying to scrape out a living.
That’s how I feel about the places the Occupiers are occupying. When I worked for Bend Over America and Positively No Communication, I was a peon. I had some control over what I did day to day, but my sales quotas and my goals were dictated by a voice from a conference call or a curt memo. Those who made their goals (despite how eye brow raising it may have seemed) were rewarded with promotions. Those who balked at the idea of pushing a product onto someone who clearly didn’t needed were demoted to customer.
Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s the Republican in me, perhaps it’s the kick in the ass of working hard only to have it implode in your face. Whatever, I think Jimi Izrael’s explanation of his criticism on Friday’s Tell Me More is the best way to sum up my feelings:
IZRAEL: You know what? Well, I was an early critic of this movement and I remain so because, in my mind, sending back soup in a restaurant is far more radical than the Occupy movement could ever hope to be. I’m going to tell you why. Because when you send back soup, there’s a coherent complaint, an explicit objective for the demonstrable metric for resolve.
Occupy, in my mind, is just kind of a eulogy for the status quo. It’s kind of a note to white America. You know what? Your kids are camped out on your lawn and, dude, they want their privilege back. A-train.
But what does this have to do with Willy Loman and Cracked?
This picture from the article at Cracked.com sums it up better than any dissecting I could do:
|Via Via Cracked.com via Weknowmemes.com|
Which leads me to Death of a Salesman.
A brief overview:
Willy Loman is a traveling salesman way passed his prime. He slowly begins to see that his life isn’t what he wanted it to be and begins to disintegrate. For a more succinct summary, visit Wikipedia.
Willy can be found in the elderly woman greeting people at Wal-Mart, the mattress salesman The Mister and I poke fun of when we call him “Ol Gil“
The first time I read this play, I was pregnant with The Boy and could not understand why Willy felt a need to go to such drastic measures. Of the characters, Biff stuck out the most. Biff reminds me of the young people I worked with who were mad when they had to work overtime, pissed if they didn’t get the choice hours, downright obnoxious when they didn’t get their way.
Willy reminds me of myself as much as I hate to admit. He put his stock and passion in his work only to be disappointed when it didn’t turn out his way in the end.
The play is not a difficult one to read as long as you keep in mind it was written before the modern technology that is a way of life for us now. It may help to read Miller’s Tragedy and the Common Man to understand Willy.
Whatever the case, spend a few hours with this classic.
This was a lot longer than the five minutes allocated for Stream of Consciousness Sunday found at allthingsfadra.com. And I regret nothing. I needed to get this down, and my mad dash to church in a few minutes was/is worth writing this post.