Death of a Salesman

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Willy's neighbor, a steady businessman. He is a constant friend to Willy through the years, though Willy is quick to take offense whenever Charley tries to bring Willy's unrealistic dreams down to earth. Charley foresees Willy's destruction and tries to save him by offering him a job. He gives the final elegy about what it meant for Willy to live and die as a salesman.

Charley Quotes in Death of a Salesman

The Death of a Salesman quotes below are all either spoken by Charley or refer to Charley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The American Dream Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Death of a Salesman published in 2011.
Act 2 Quotes
The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you're a salesman, and you don't know that.
Related Characters: Charley (speaker), Willy Loman
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Willy enters into Charley's office to ask him for a loan, having just been fired by Howard. Charley had previously offered Willy a well-paying job, but Willy had proudly refused to take it (Willy has always felt very competitive towards Charley). Charley tells Willy that he doesn't understand why he wants to borrow money, but won't take a job. Willy explains that he was fired by Howard, but also repeats his philosophy that in order to succeed, one must be impressive and likable. He believes that his involvement in Howard's childhood should have given him a leg up. Here, Charley tries to tell Willy that those things—his relationships, being well liked or successful—don't matter in the world of real capitalism. The American Dream is much harsher than Willy's idealized vision of it. Once again Willy has spent so much of his life worrying about his image of success that he has lost the meaning within his own life. 

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Requiem Quotes
There were a lot of nice days. When he'd come home from a trip; or on Sundays, making the stoop; finishing the cellar; putting on the new porch... You know something, Charley, there's more of him in that front stoop than in all the sales he ever made.
Related Characters: Biff Loman (speaker), Willy Loman, Charley
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

After Willy's funeral, Biff brings up Willy's knack for carpentry as one of his better qualities. So much of their home is Willy's making, and this moment suggests that Willy had skills outside of his failed sales career—he was just too caught up in his own pursuit of wealth, and his idea of success as being "likable," to see it. Biff tries to remember the good in his father, both to celebrate him and, in many ways, to protect himself. He is his father's son, and he sees so much of his own failure as a result of that. Yet the suggestion is that Biff has not yet given in entirely to Willy's delusions—there is still a chance for him to find more fulfillment in life than his father did. 

He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine... A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.
Related Characters: Charley (speaker), Willy Loman
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

After Willy's funeral, the family stands around Willy's grave and talk about his life. Biff tells Charley that Willy had the wrong dreams—he was never meant to be a salesman, and his aspirations were clouded by his desire to be wealthy and well-liked by many. Charley disagrees, and he tells the group that Willy was the truest salesman there ever was. He depended on the happiness and affirmation of his customers. If he didn't have that, his life would shatter. He was exemplary in his profession, which caused him to rely heavily on his own success. This is what really killed him—his failure to continue to receive the affirmation of others, the failure of his own dreams.

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Charley Character Timeline in Death of a Salesman

The timeline below shows where the character Charley appears in Death of a Salesman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...he will soon open a bigger, more successful business than that owned by their neighbor, Charley, because he is better liked than Charley. (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Bernard, Charley's son, enters. He wonders why Biff has not come over to study math with him.... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Charley, who has heard the voices in Willy's house, comes over from next door to see... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Willy asks Charley what he thinks of the new ceiling Willy has put up. Charley shows interest, but... (full context)
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
In a kind of daydream, Willy's rugged, dignified older brother Ben appears onstage. Willy tells Charley that Ben died only a few weeks ago, in Africa. In his grogginess, he talks... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
A younger Charley enters and warns Willy not to let his sons steal any more from the construction... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...commission. Nobody will buy from him anymore, and he borrows fifty dollars a week from Charley and claims it is his salary. She tells her sons that Willy has worked all... (full context)
Act 2
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
...helmet, but Happy insists on carrying that. Biff allows Bernard to carry his shoulder pads. Charley enters and jokes with Willy about the game, trying to deflate Willy's excessive expectations about... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Bernard, now grown, is waiting in the reception room outside Charley's office. Charley's secretary, Jenny, comes in to ask Bernard to deal with Willy, who has... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Just then, Charley comes out of his office and hands Bernard a goodbye gift, a bottle of bourbon.... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Bernard leaves, and Willy follows Charley into his office. Charley starts to count out the usual fifty dollars, but Willy sheepishly... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Charley gives Willy the money to pay his life insurance premium. Willy muses that he has... (full context)
Requiem
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
The only people at Willy's funeral are his family, Charley and Bernard. Linda is bewildered by the absence of all Willy's business associates, and wonders... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Charley delivers an eulogy in Willy's defense. He says that a salesman doesn't do anything concrete... (full context)