Brotherhood – A Reaction to Death of a Salesman – Written December 2, 2002

My entire life, I wanted to have a relationship with my brother. All my life I had watched television’s idea of perfect brotherhood – the younger brother asks the big one for advice, the big one beats up the big kids that pick on his little brother, that sort of stuff. And, for the most part, he and I did OK. We were not exactly Happy and Biff, but we got by.

When Matt and I fight, it is like no other style of fighting I have. No one else can astound me with a tremendously intelligent comment one second and amaze me with complete stupidity in the very next breath. And I am sure he feels the same about me. It used to be that we simply ignored each other, but then we found that fighting was far too entertaining. In some ways, we are the total opposite of The Loman Brothers.

The Loman Brothers are exactly what I meant when I mentioned the “perfect brotherhood” concept. They never really fight, but they quarrel occasionally. Each watches the others’ back and each would gladly die for the other. Happy seeks Biff’s counsel frequently, and I think that Biff seeks Happy’s advice, though more subtlety. I read this play two years ago, and the scenes between Biff and Happy never really effected me the way they did this second time around.

This is the case because two years ago I wanted to bash my brother’s head off a locker, which I actually did once. It was not until I left home for High Point that we finally connected. All my life, I have had an “out-of-the-box” perspective, whereas Matt was always more scientific. We have virtually nothing in common, even physically (he’s skinny and blonde and I’m fuller-figured and a brunette). Towards the end of my senior year, however, everything changed.

Since I could drive, I had driven Matt, Kevin (my best friend), and myself to school. Kevin was like Matt’s mean older brother; I usually tried to educate him as opposed to smacking him. In the end, Kevin and I did a pretty good job of raising him. If Matt was being a dork, Kevin would slap him around. If Matt was getting picked on by anyone else, I stepped in. One of my fondest memories was when he was getting picked on by these two juniors when he was a freshman and I was a senior. I was watching from the distance with a few friends of mine waiting to see what he would do. Like some kind of luminary, my brother stood up to two kids twice his size. And, of course, I stepped in and rescued him before he got into serious trouble. About a week later, I made sure that all the “tough guys” I knew had their eyes on him, though he never knew about it.

That is true brotherhood, and that is what Happy and Biff show their audience. Being a big brother isn’t about helping your little bro get his first kiss or teaching him how to drive a stick shift, it’s about loyalty. In the end, the loyalty of brotherhood helped Happy and Biff to survive everything that happened with Willy, just as my loyalty with my brother helps us deal with our problems.

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