In Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman, the main character; Willy Lowman is a semi-successful salesman who is forced into retirement before he is ready. Willy believes whole-heartedly in the American Dream of easy success and wealth, but he never achieves it. After Willy's salary is cut, and his territories limited, he is forced to face the realization that his days of a salesman are over. With the loss of his identifier as a salesman, Willy is unable to cope. Willy's anxiety throws him into a life torn between illusion and reality. After convincing himself that his family would be better off financially without him, Willy takes his own life. .
The fictional character Willy Lowman has been studied, analyzed, an interpreted. Arthur Miller struck a cord with his character in which he capture's an essence of the workingman's perils. Why is it so easy for society to relate to Willy Lowman? In the play Willy comments, "You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away. A man is not a man is not a piece of fruit" (Miller 82). What Willy has lost at trying to live the American Dream and the play can be viewed as an analysis about society. Willy was a man who worked all his life and at the end of his career he was mercilessly discarded, like a "piece of fruit.".
Our fascination with a play about a fictional character has begged the question, "Why?" Why can we relate to a loss of a career as a loss of identity? Have we become a society so driven by our work that we can no longer separate what we do as a job from who we are as an individual? How does one find meaning in their life after their career is over?.
The stereotype of retirement has been largely negative, mixing elements of loss of status with nothing to do. Retirees have been said to have no roles once they can no longer be identified by a workplace and position. From a micro perspective, work satisfies a broad spectrum of individual needs, such as the needs for solidarity and a feeling of self-worth.