The movie was beautifully acted by Dustin Hoffman as Willie Lohman, the salesman. Here is a man in his sixties who’s never quite made it because he’s had the wrong dream, trying to be a successful businessman when he was actually not equipped for it.
Unable to accept that he’s failed, Willie unloads his same dream onto his two sons, especially Biff, who Willie imagines will rise to greatness because of his looks, athletic ability, and the fact that “he was well-liked.”
The play, movie, is a tragedy, mostly I think, in Willie’s role as a father. That he loves his sons is made apparent, but the kind of love he shows them is ruinous. He has a dream for them–his dream, not theirs. And he’s a man who cannot accept the reality that he is a failure in the job chose to build his life around, so he lies to make himself seem successful. He lies to his sons, and even to himself.
The greatest love we can give our children is Truth–to show them who they are–valuable human beings created by God. But we should never sugar-coat their mistakes. And often, we do that, maybe because their mistakes are similar to ours and we don’t want to personally own up either.
It’s important that we don’t selfishly implant in children our own dreams and expect them to play them out with any success. We have to realize each child’s uniqueness. But most of all we have to realize where we ourselves have failed in our lives so far, and make an attempt to keep our children from doing the same–by being truthful, not dishonest.
Getting to know our children and their personalities is so important. We cannot guide them properly if we look through the rose-colored glasses of what WE want them to be. Always, we need to see them as individuals, children who came through us—but are NOT US.
Parents and children—and I think especially Fathers and sons—no matter how deeply they love each other, often have many regrets. But there will always be a certain bond there.
So, may Fathers and Sons respect each other for who they are, and may each forgive the other for being a fallible human being.