Willy Loman and Ryan Bingham share some qualities. However, these qualities distinguish them from each other making them two very different people. They both lack family values, yet Willy has a family and Ryan does not. Both of them have a desire; however, Willy’s is clearly unattainable while Ryan’s is within reach. They are both self-absorbed; though only Ryan knows it. What seems to be a similarity between the two men actually makes them very different from each other. Willy Loman and Ryan Bingham both lack family values; however Ryan does not have a family of his own. Can one have family values if they do not have a family?
Yes they can. On the shuttle bus ride to the Hilton Miami Airport Hotel, Natalie Keener is appalled by Ryan’s view on marriage. “ I just don’t see the value in it…How many stable marriages do you know? ” To prove Ryan’s disbelief in family values Willy has an affair with another woman. Willy’s self-confidence takes precedence over his own family. When he asks his mistress for the second time, “You picked me, heh? ” she responds with the confidence boost he needs. “Sure. Because you’re so sweet. And such a kidder. ” Willy’s lack of family values is also portrayed when he gives Linda’s stockings to the mistress.
The stockings symbolize Willy’s betrayal of his family. Of course to Ryan Bingham, the stockings are meaningless because he does not have a family of his own. Nevertheless, the stockings should be significant to Willy, but they are clearly not. Even though Willy and Ryan share a lack of family values, they contrast in the situations they are in. Every man has a desire; however, it is how attainable their desire is that distinguishes a goal from dream. Ryan Bingman’s goal is to become the seventh person in history to reach ten million flying miles. “More people have walked on the moon. Ryan Bingham’s job involves a great deal of time spent in the air which makes accomplishing this task a matter of patience. This is a goal due to the fact that it is very achievable. Willy’s desire in life is to be a “personally attractive” and “well liked” businessman. “I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ’Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people? ” His deep desire to become a successful salesman causes his psychological decline.
What sets apart a goal from a dream is how attainable the desire is. At Willy’s age of sixty-one, it is nearly impossible for him to accomplish such an echelon of sales. Therefore, Willy’s obsession to become a great salesman is merely a dream that will not come true. “He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine . . . A salesman has got to dream, boy,” his neighbor Charley states. Ryan Bingman and Willy Loman share a desire in life; on the other hand, they contrast in that Ryan Bingman has a very attainable goal, while Willy Loman lives an impossible dream.
Ryan and Willy are both very self-absorbed in their own lives, but only Ryan knows it. Ryan’s lifestyle consists of flying all over the country firing people. He is never settled in one location. His sister Kara tells him that the way he lives is isolated; however, he cleverly responds by saying, “Isolated? I’m surrounded. ” He is self-absorbed in his own life and he won’t budge from it. He is very similar to Willy who is self-absorbed in his unfeasible dream. But the only difference is that Ryan is aware that he is self-absorbed, while Willy is not.
Willy is so self-absorbed that he does not realize the world around him and he is solely focused on his dream. When he meets with Howard Wagner his first priority is to inform Howard that he does not want to travel anymore because his kids are grown-up and he does not need the extra cash that traveling would offer. However, by the end of the meeting he quickly changes his mindset and is begging for a job even if it does involve traveling. “All right, I’ll go to Boston tomorrow…I can’t throw myself on my sons. I’m not a cripple. He is so self-absorbed in his dream to become a successful businessman that he discards all of his beliefs. While Ryan and Willy are both self-absorbed in their lives, Ryan remains calm, cool, and collected and accepts his nomadic lifestyle, while Willy does not realize his self-absorption and the impracticality of his dream. Willy Loman and Ryan Bingham share great similarities and differences. They may share their lack of family values, desire, and self-absorption; but within those themes, both men vary significantly.