Death of a Salesman

Biff Loman Character Analysis

Willy and Linda's elder son. He has always been in the shadow of his father's expectations for him, beginning with his starred career as a high school football player and prospective college student. At that impressionable age, he witnesses Willy's affair with the The Woman, which is enough to shake his faith in everything his father has ever told him. When the play begins, he is grasping for answers in his life, having worked as a farm laborer for years and still unable to meet his father's standards of success. In the course of the play, he has the revelation that he, like his father, is not destined for greatness. But he realizes that he can still achieve happiness through his own, simpler version of the American Dream: working with his hands in wide-open spaces, doing the things that fulfill him. He represents Willy's better, more honest nature, which Willy tragically turns away from.

Biff Loman Quotes in Death of a Salesman

The Death of a Salesman quotes below are all either spoken by Biff Loman or refer to Biff 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
It's a measly manner of existence. To get on that subway on the hot mornings in summer... To suffer fifty weeks a year for the sake of a two-week vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off. And always to have to get ahead of the next fella. And still - that's how you build a future.
Related Characters: Biff Loman (speaker)
Page Number: 10-11
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Remember how he waved to me? Right up from the field, with the representatives of three colleges standing by? And the buyers I brought, and the cheers when he came out - Loman, Loman, Loman! God Almighty, he'll be great yet.
Related Characters: Willy Loman (speaker), Biff Loman
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2 Quotes
I even believed myself that I'd been a salesman for him! And he gave me one look and - I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been!
Related Characters: Biff Loman (speaker), Bill Oliver
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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She's nothing to me, Biff. I was lonely, I was terribly lonely.

You - you gave her Mama's stockings!
Related Characters: Willy Loman (speaker), Biff Loman (speaker), Linda Loman, The Woman
Related Symbols: Stockings
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
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Will you let me go, for Christ's sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?
Related Characters: Biff Loman (speaker), Willy Loman
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Biff Loman Character Timeline in Death of a Salesman

The timeline below shows where the character Biff 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 a farm... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...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
Recalling his argument with Willy, Biff says that he doesn't know what he is supposed to want. He has tried following... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Biff decides he will ask his old employer, Bill Oliver, for some money to start a... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...lost in 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... (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. Biff is close to flunking the... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Willy's memories build to a crescendo. Bernard runs through, begging Biff to study for the upcoming exam. Willy tells Bernard to just give Biff the answers.... (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... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...that his sons are also rugged. To test his claim, Ben begins to mock-wrestle with Biff, and then trips the boy and threatens him by hovering the point of his umbrella... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Ben had given him. She reminds him that he pawned it thirteen years ago, for Biff's radio correspondence course. (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... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Biff angrily responds that Willy never respected her. Linda counters that Willy may not be a... (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... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
...of the water heater, which she thinks means that Willy had tried to asphyxiate himself. Biff decides that though he hates the business world, it will be best for his family... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
When Willy enters, having overheard his family arguing about him, Biff tries to joke, saying that Willy might whistle in an elevator. Willy takes offense, thinking... (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 stake money to... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...by the sporting goods idea, which they call the "Florida idea," Willy gives advice to Biff regarding the interview. He tells Biff that he should walk into the office very seriously,... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
In bed that night, Linda asks Willy what Biff has against him, and reminds him to ask Howard Wagner for a sales position in... (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... (full context)
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Right after Willy leaves, Linda answers a phone call from Biff. She tells him what she thinks is good news: that the rubber hose Willy attached... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
...he can reach out and touch his success. Willy responds by pointing to his son, Biff, who plays football and is about to go to college. He tells Ben that what's... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
...in a new memory, Bernard enters as the Loman family is preparing to go to Biff's football game. He asks to carry Biff's helmet, but Happy insists on carrying that. Biff... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...course of conversation mentions that he has a case in Washington, D.C. Willy replies that Biff is also working on a big deal. Willy suddenly becomes upset, and asks Bernard why... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
The two of them agree that Biff's life derailed after he failed math. Bernard recalls that Biff had been determined to go... (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 attractive girl, Miss Forsythe. She claims to be a... (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... (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... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Willy arrives. Biff begins, hesitantly, to tell him what happened. But before he can say much, Willy reveals... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Willy remembers a young Bernard knocking on Linda's door, telling her that Biff has flunked math. Distracted by this memory, Willy ignores Biff's confession and instead tells Biff,... (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... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...returns, now 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... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Alone in the restroom, Willy relives the memory of being surprised by Biff while he was with The Woman in a hotel room in Boston. The memory begins... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Trying to get Biff out of the room, Willy pushes him toward the door and agrees to drive back... (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... (full context)
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...company must honor the policy because he has paid all the premiums. He adds that Biff will see how important he is from the number of people at his funeral. Ben... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Biff enters and takes the hoe out of Willy's hand. He tells Willy that he is... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
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Biff puts the rubber hose in front of Willy, demanding that he answer to it. He... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Biff continues, saying that what he really loves in this world is to be outdoors, and... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Willy, suddenly in better spirits, comments that Biff must really like him to cry over him as he did. Linda and Happy assure... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...also come upstairs soon. Alone, now, Ben appears to him, and Willy assures Ben that Biff will be magnificent one day, once he has twenty thousand dollars in his pocket. The... (full context)
Requiem
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...why Willy would kill himself now, when they had nearly paid off all their debts. Biff brings up the memory of Willy doing craftsman's work around the house, and maintains that... (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... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Biff enters, and supporting Linda, leads her away. All the characters exit the stage as flute... (full context)