death of a salesman

Willy Loman is a salesman living in New York City in the late 1940’s. He lives with his wife, Linda, in the same house for the last twenty-five years. The house once sat apart from other homes, now it is surrounded by apartment buildings, which makes Willy feel closed in. –¬†Willy is having trouble concentrating on driving and often makes mistakes such as crossing the white line, driving off the road, and running red lights, while stopping for green lights. He has begun to talk to himself more and more, which causes concern for Linda. He, at the beginning of the play, has come home from a business trip because he has had trouble with his driving. He is also concerned, because his sons are not progressing in the business world the way he had hoped they would. His son Happy does have a job and lives in his own apartment, but his son, Biff, rambles from job to job, as a farmhand, never making much money.

Willy has been demoted from a salary employee to a commission employee at his job. This means he makes less money to support himself and his wife. This combined with the constant driving and lackluster sales, causes Willy so much stress, that he begins to hallucinate. He thinks he is living in an earlier time in his life. He speaks to people who aren’t there and he disturbs his friend, Charley, who comes over to play cards with Willy. During the game Willy thinks his dead brother, Ben, is in the room with them. He is talking to Ben and Charley at the same time, which causes Charley and Willy to have a disagreement about the card game. Charley leaves, but Willy is still talking to Ben asking him how he made his fortune. Ben had gone to Africa and worked in the diamond mines, this is how he became rich. Willy also needs Ben to tell him he is proud of Willy and his sons. During this hallucination the boys are teenagers and Biff is the sports star at his school. Willy sees a very bright future for his son, but in reality this does not come to pass. Willy is not as proud of Happy, who does all he can to garner some attention from his father. He is constantly telling his dad about the weight he has lost, but Willy instead of praising his son, tells him more ways in which to lose weight.
Biff and Happy are surprised at the turn their father has taken. Happy knew his father would often talk to himself, but did not know he was so loud about it and how often it occurred. Biff, meanwhile had no idea his father was behaving in this manner. Now their mother tells them the car accidents Willy has been having, are in fact attempts at suicide. The boys agree to try to stay closer to home and start a business together. Biff decides to ask his former boss for a loan to help start the new business.
At the beginning of act two, Willy and Linda are full of hope for their family’s future. Willy is going to talk to his boss, Howard, and try to change his job from that of traveling salesman to floor salesman in the store. They are also hopeful about Biff and Happy’s future business venture. If Biff can receive the loan from his former employer, than it will mean a bright future for the boys. Biff at age 34, needs to settle down and make a career for himself, he sees that and so does his parents.
Willy tries to talk to Howard about the job change, but Howard tells him he just doesn’t have a position open for him in the store. He needs Willy to keep selling to the clients in the New England area. Willy becomes angry with Howard and starts to yell at him. Howard after trying to calm Willy down, eventually has to fire him.
Biff is left waiting in his former boss, Bill Oliver’s office for six hours and he only sees Bill, as he is leaving for the day. It is clear that Bill either doesn’t remember Biff or doesn’t want to speak to him. Biff, after all, did steal some basketballs from Bill’s business. Biff in a pique of anger enters Bill’s office and steals his pen. As he is making his escape from Bill’s office he realizes he and Bill never did have a real relationship and he has made a mess of his life.
Biff and Happy have made plans to meet their father in a restaurant to celebrate the anticipated good news from the day. Instead, it is all bad news and Willy is not willing to accept the truth from Biff. The two boys meet some girls and leave Willy alone in the restaurant, which causes Willy to have another hallucination about a woman he had used to cheat on Linda.
At home, Linda is furious with the boys for leaving their father behind at the restaurant. She tells them it would be better if they left and never returned, because they causes so much stress for their father. Willy and Biff finally tell each other how they feel, which makes Willy understand that his son loves him. Willy decides the insurance money of twenty-five thousand dollars would benefit his family. He talks to Ben and decides to kill himself. Afterward, Linda has a hard time dealing with Willy’s death. She cannot bring herself to cry, because she keeps on waiting for him to return from another business trip. She is sad, because finally the house is paid for and now she does not have a husband to share it with.
This play shows how false perceptions of ourselves and others can bring about the ruin of a person. If a life is based on a lie, then eventually the truth can be too much to endure.

Willy Loman lives in a house in New York City with his wife Linda. He is a man whose life is falling apart around him and he doesn’t know how to cope with the changes he has to endure. He is a salesman who has worked for the same company for thirty-six years. Because he is no longer as productive a salesman as he once was, he has been demoted from salary to commission only wages and therefore his income is much lower than it used to be.
The stress of trying to bring in enough money has taken an enormous emotional toll on him. He is not able to concentrate on his driving anymore. This causes him to make mistakes such as crossing the dividing line between the lanes on the road and stopping for green traffic lights and going on red lights. He has to drive to Boston and Portland in order to make his sales pitches. The stress of all this driving on the sixty-three year old man is becoming too much for him to bear.
He is starting to have hallucinations about his life, before it began to fall apart. He thinks of his boys, Biff and Happy, as teenage boys. He is proud of Biff’s achievements in sports and his popularity in high school. He is not as proud of Happy, but he is still proud of him. He has such high hopes for his sons, especially Biff. Biff is recruited by three colleges to play sports for them, but Biff’s grades are so poor he is in danger of not graduating. Happy spends his time trying to garner some attention from his father, by telling him he has lost weight. All Willy does is to tell Happy other ways in which he can lose even more weight. Willy, while he is living in the past, talks out loud to himself.
He disturbs his neighbor Charley, who comes over to play cards with Willy. While they are playing cards, Willy again goes into his own world and he sees his brother Ben, who has passed away. He is begging Ben to find the time to talk with him, to tell him about their father, who left when Willy was about three years old. He is playing cards with Charley and talking to Ben at the same time. Eventually, Willy and Charley argue about the card game, causing Charley to leave. Willy continues to talk to Ben and even has his teenage sons in his hallucination. He needs Ben to tell him he is proud of him and impressed by Biff and Happy. He also wants Ben to tell him how he made his fortune in Africa. All Ben will tell him, is he walked into the jungle in Africa, at age seventeen and walked out rich, at twenty-one. He made his money working in the diamond mines in Africa. Ben leaves, even though Willy begs him to stay with him for a while.
Willy and his wife, Linda, have a good marriage. Linda always tries to prop Willy up by telling him how wonderful a salesman he is and how good a man he is, she truly believes what she is saying is true. Willy has a rough relationship with Biff, because Biff does not live up to the expectations his father has for him. Biff cannot find himself, instead he has been wandering the American West going from job to job looking for the one job which fits his needs, which is working on farms and with his hands. He has just come home from Texas, where he worked on a cattle ranch. He does not know about the problems his father is having and is stunned when he witnesses his father talking to himself about how well Biff and Happy have cleaned the car, an event which happened years ago. Biff is also surprised to see how gray his mother’s hair has become, because he always thought of her as a young woman. Now he has to face the realities of life, which is his parents are growing older and he is also older. He, at thirty-four, knows realistically he should be settled down in a job and possibly have a wife and family, instead he is still going from job to job, which causes his father to lash out at him.
Happy, who is thirty-two, has a job and an apartment of his own. He lives in New York, but does not see his parents as often as he should. He is trying to live the life his father wants him to live, even though he is not content, he is not willing to give up trying to impress his father.
Their mother tells the boys their father’s car accidents have not been accidents, but instead failed attempts to kill himself. A woman witnessed one of the accidents and saw Willy drive into a bridge on purpose. Linda has also found a rubber hose that attaches to the gas pipe in the basement, which she feels Willy put there with the intent to kill himself. Biff and Happy are stunned at the news, so they agree to try to garner funding from various sources to start a business. This would serve to make Willy happy and allow them to stay close to home to help their parents.
Willy Loman is a man caught between the real world and the world of his imagination, because he is disappointed by his life and the lives his sons are living. He does not know how to cope with the deterioration of his sales career. His wife knows he is suicidal, but she is incapable of talking to him about it, because she will not let him feel as if he is a failure.