Death of a Salesman

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Howard Wagner Character Analysis

Willy's boss and the son of Frank Wagner, who founded the company for which Willy works. A cold, selfish man, he inherits his success without building anything himself. He refuses to take the personal association between Willy and his father into account when he tells Willy there is no place for him at the New York office. He represents the new, impersonal face of the sales business.

Howard Wagner Quotes in Death of a Salesman

The Death of a Salesman quotes below are all either spoken by Howard Wagner or refer to Howard Wagner. 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
Willy: Your father came to me the day you were born and asked me what I thought of the name of Howard, may he rest in peace.

Howard: I appreciate that, Willy, but there just is no spot here for you.
Related Characters: Willy Loman (speaker), Howard Wagner (speaker)
Page Number: 59-60
Explanation and Analysis:

Willy goes to meet Howard Wagner, the son of the owner of the company he works for. Encouraged by Linda to find a job that will keep him in New York, and always one for a business deal or "sale," Willy comes into the meeting optimistic. He asks Howard to keep him in New York on a lower salary, and in this moment, Howard refuses. Although only 36 years old, Howard acts patronizingly towards Willy here. He is a much younger man, but like so many others in Willy's life, doesn't respect him. Willy brings up how he helped Howard's father choose his name as a baby.

Although Willy idealizes these kinds of connections, and assumes that being likable and loyal is the ultimate recipe for success, here that idea is shot down. Willy's connection to Howard's father fits in with Willy's ideas of how business works, but to Howard—who, we presume, is more concerned with profit than indulging in nostalgia—this just isn't that important. Thus the very things that Willy counted on here abandon and betray him.

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Howard Wagner Character Timeline in Death of a Salesman

The timeline below shows where the character Howard Wagner 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
...though he adds that now the founder of the company is dead and his son, Howard Wagner, does not appreciate Willy's history of service. (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...that night, Linda asks Willy what Biff has against him, and reminds him to ask Howard Wagner for a sales position in New York. He tells her he is too tired... (full context)
Act 2
The American Dream Theme Icon
Linda then reminds Willy to ask Howard Wagner for a salaried non-traveling position in New York. She also tells him to ask... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Willy arrives at Howard Wagner's office, and timidly enters. Howard is playing with a wire recorder he bought for... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
When Howard gets around to asking why Willy isn't in Boston, Willy explains that he doesn't want... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...honorable, full of potential, and "the greatest career a man could want." He complains to Howard that there is no friendship or respect in the business anymore. (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Willy continues to mention Howard's father and lowers his salary requirement, but Howard is uninterested. He leaves his office to... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Howard comes back in and unplugs the tape recorder. He tells Willy that he is no... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Howard leaves, and Willy slips into a memory in which Ben is offering him an opportunity... (full context)