Death of a Salesman

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Happy Loman Character Analysis

Willy and Linda's younger son. He is the assistant to an assistant manager at a department store, and is always willing to do whatever is convenient: be duplicitous to his family, take bribes at work, or sleep with the girlfriends of his colleagues. At the end of the play he resolves to carry on Willy's legacy by making as much money as possible, which is a twisted misinterpretation of what Willy's death meant. In the importance that Happy places on getting ahead, and in his readiness to delude himself, he represents the worst aspects of Willy's nature.

Happy Loman Quotes in Death of a Salesman

The Death of a Salesman quotes below are all either spoken by Happy Loman or refer to Happy Loman. 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 1 Quotes
Manufacturers offer me a hundred-dollar bill now and then to throw an order their way. You know how honest I am, but it's like this girl, see. I hate myself for it. Because I don't want the girl, and, still, I take it and - I love it!
Related Characters: Happy Loman (speaker)
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Happy and Biff discuss their own futures. When Biff asks Happy about whether or not he likes his job in sales, he says no. He is constantly waiting for a higher up to quit or die, and his life is incredibly lonely. However, Happy does find the prospect of money as an enticing one. Here we see Happy reflect similar sentiments to his father, Willy. He goes on to tell Biff that he has been sleeping with executives' girlfriends in order to get to the top. One woman was his lover just weeks before she got married to his boss. He has also been taking bribes from manufacturers. 

Living in Biff's shadow as a child, Happy has always tried to overcompensate for his father's approval. It makes sense, then, that he would pursue the same career as Willy, whether he likes it or not. By revealing his slyness and manipulation, Happy also attempts to prove his own manhood and pride to Biff. In some ways, this again is an example of that distorted American Dream; to live the life of your father, no matter how much it costs you. 

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And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England. The finest people. And when I bring you fellas up, there'll be open sesame for all of us, 'cause one thing, boys: I have friends.
Related Characters: Willy Loman (speaker), Biff Loman, Happy Loman
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

After returning home from a business trip, Willy recounts his time away to his sons. He explains that he is very well liked when he travels. On this trip he met the mayor of Providence and sat down with him. He also brags about his fame and friends.

This moment is a stark contrast from Willy's first entrance and dialogue with Linda. Here, Willy is putting on a show for his sons. Instead of telling them the truth—that he hates his job and feels like his life is pointless—he regales his sons with stories of his travels. There is a sense of pride inherent in being the father for Willy. He must be successful. He must be an example for his sons. Once again, success, wealth and now, being well-liked become more important than happiness; this is Willy's  perception of the "American Dream." 

Act 2 Quotes
But it'll go on forever!

Dad is never so happy as when he's looking forward to something!
Related Characters: Biff Loman (speaker), Happy Loman (speaker), Willy Loman
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

After telling Happy the story of his encounter with Bill Oliver, Biff reveals that when no one was looking he snuck into Oliver's office and stole his fountain pen. Biff then tells Happy that he wants to confess to their father, so that Willy can see that Biff is very different from what he appears to be. Happy suggests that instead of telling Willy the truth, they convince him that Oliver agreed to speak with Biff and is looking over their offer. Happy knows that Willy's joy and self-worth hinges on his dreams, so he encourages his brother to lie in order to keep their father happy. Biff, on the other hand, feels he needs to prove something to his father, whom he always felt never understood him. 

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Happy Loman Character Timeline in Death of a Salesman

The timeline below shows where the character Happy Loman 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
The conversation turns to Willy and Linda's grown sons, Happy and Biff, who are upstairs sleeping after a double date. Biff has been working as... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...convinces Willy to go downstairs to the kitchen so that he won't wake the boys. Happy and Biff, who are already awake, wonder if Willy has had another car accident. (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
...path and briefly worked as a shipping clerk, but he felt too constrained. He tells Happy how inspiring and beautiful it is to see a new colt born on the farm... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Happy, who works at a department store, declares that he is not content either. He claims... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...that Oliver still blames him for some basketballs that went missing when Biff worked there. Happy is encouraging, and reminds Biff that he is well liked. The boys are embarrassed to... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...a memory, which is acted out onstage. He is remembering a time when Biff and Happy, as young boys, helped him wash the car. Happy tries to get Willy's attention, but... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Happy comes downstairs, distracting Willy from his memories. Happy tries to convince Willy to come upstairs... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Willy calls Biff and Happy into the room and asks Ben to tell them about their grandfather. Ben describes "a... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Willy leaves to go on a walk, though he is in his slippers. Biff and Happy join Linda downstairs and the three of them have a worried conversation about Willy's mental... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Linda says that Biff and Happy have been ungrateful to their father. She says that Happy is a "philandering bum," and... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
To diffuse Willy's anger, Happy announces that Biff is going to ask his old boss Bill Oliver to ask for... (full context)
Act 2
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
When Willy wakes the next morning, Biff and Happy have already gone, and Linda tells Willy that Biff is on his way to see... (full context)
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
At Frank's Chop House, Happy banters with Stanley, a waiter he knows. When Biff arrives, Happy is flirting with an... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Once she is gone, Biff tells Happy that he waited in Bill Oliver's waiting room for six hours. When Oliver finally came... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Biff tells Happy that he wants to confess all this to Willy, so that their father will know... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...much, Willy reveals that he's been fired, and needs some good news for their mother. Happy begins to go along with Willy's assumptions about the Oliver meeting, but Biff continues to... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...this, Biff shows Willy the stolen pen as proof of what he did. He and Happy are frightened by Willy's delusional behavior. (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Trying to calm Willy down, Biff falls back on Happy's strategy and lies: he tells Willy that Oliver is going to lend them the money.... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...with a friend, Letta. Willy, in a daze, wanders off to the restroom. Biff berates Happy for not caring enough about Willy. He pulls the rubber hose that he found in... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Biff and Happy return home later that night. Happy has brought a bouquet of roses for Linda, but... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...commits suicide, and accuses everyone in the house, including himself, of maintaining delusions. He charges Happy with making his job title sound more important than it is, and admits that he... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
...that Biff must really like him to cry over him as he did. Linda and Happy assure Willy that Biff has always loved him. (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Happy goes upstairs. Linda follows soon after. Willy promises to also come upstairs soon. Alone, now,... (full context)
Requiem
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Happy, upset, says that Willy's death was unnecessary. Linda wonders why Willy would kill himself now,... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Biff again says that that their father didn't know who he was, angering Happy. When Biff invites Happy to come out west with him, Happy responds that he refuses... (full context)