74 pages 2 hours read

Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1949

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Symbols & Motifs

Alaska and the African Jungle

The motif of Alaska and the African jungle represent Willy’s fascination with his brother’s success in the wilderness and his inclination towards natural work. The Loman men have an innate inclination towards nature, and they are only truly satisfied when working with their hands. Willy’s father and Ben both chased their dreams of the wilderness by heading off to Alaska, and Ben in turn became rich and successful, coming across diamonds in an African jungle. Such success is a stroke of luck that completely contradicts the requirements of hard work for success in the American Dream that Willy is so religiously committed to. However, it is clearly seen even in Willy’s moments of happiness and hope that his contentment is in planting a garden, having a house in the country, and doing work around the home. While Willy repeatedly justifies his choice to remain in Brooklyn as a businessman to pursue the American Dream, he never fails to be fixated and fascinated with his brother’s success. He deeply regrets never taking on Ben’s offer to head to Alaska, a fulfillment of his deepest fantasies. This regret pushes Willy to fall deeper into his dedication to the capitalist, modern American dream of hard work and success in the business world.