Death of a Salesman

why is being well-liked so important to willy?

he always says popularity gets people far

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Yes, Willy elevates being well liked over all other virtues. To Willy, being well liked constitutes the raw materials for achieving the American Dream. Being popular is a fast track around actually working hard. In act one, Willy even hints that Biff can even get away with stealing a ball because of his popularity with the coach.