Charley lives next door to the Lomans and, among all of the Death of a Salesman characters, appears to be Willy's closest friend. Charley has owned his own successful business for years, and his own son Bernard is a successful attorney. Willy is jealous of his neighbor's success -- and that of his son, who has done much better for himself than Willy's son Biff has. Charley has been paying Willy's bills for some time, and he even offers him a job to come and work for him, but for some reason, Willy is too proud to come work for him -- but not to take loans from him that he has no way to repay. Throughout the play, Charley is the voice of logic and reason. Charley has succeeded with regard to the American Dream, but has not deluded himself about any magic associated with it. He has done well for himself with hard work, and he offers Willy that opportunity too. Unfortunately, Willy is beyond the help of reason.
Of the three Loman men among the Death of a Salesman characters, Biff is the only one who bothers to spend time with introspection. He hates the way that the other two create illusions for themselves and live inside those instead of reality. Willy has always had grand dreams for Biff, which Biff was headed toward fulfilling, until Biff discovered Willy having an affair in Boston. That disillusionment destroys all of the belief that Biff felt in his father.
After this confrontation, Biff feels trapped inside his father's dreams for him, and Willy feels like he has raised a slacker. Biff believes that Willy's American Dream focuses on the tangible and the negotiable, neglecting the ideas of self-reliance and integrity. Biff cannot achieve his own autonomy until he realizes the full extent of the flaws of his father's philosophy and develops his own belief system.