Upgrade to remove ads
Death of a Salesman
Terms in this set (69)
ACT I - Describe the first impression which the audience is given of Willy Loman. (pg 5)
Overwhelmed, exhausted, helpless, and clustered. Smashed the car. Wife is concerned. Good insight of who he is as a person. Brutal honesty.
What comment does Willy make about the scenery during his drive home, and how is this significant? (pg 6)
Beautiful with big trees. Couldn't keep his mind focused on one thing (driving). Easily distracted. Thinks nature is comforting.
How does Willy contradict himself during his opening remarks about Biff? (pg 8)
Originally calls him lazy, but three lines later calls him not lazy not lost.
Describe Willy's reaction to the American cheese? What commentary is Miller making about his character here? (pg 8)
He says he doesn't like change and wants his usual Swiss cheese. The cheese is representative of his inability to accept the changing world around him.
How does the open window reflect Willy's attitude towards his environment? (pg 8)
He finds comfort in nature and likes the fresh air and outdoors. He sees the window as closed. He closed himself in and can't physically see the open window. The window is symbolic of his open-mindedness. They were closing a lot of the farmland in Brooklyn and opening more apartment buildings.
When Willy reflects on the past on the top of p. 9, what attracts him?
Nature was so beautiful to him and reflects the relationship with Biff. He misses the flowers that were chopped down and the relationship with his son.
When comment does Willy make about the Chevvy on p. 10?
He realizes now that earlier today he thought he was driving his old 1928 red Chevvy. Linda is more grounded but is not aware of his different cars. He's very irritable and misses his old car.
What is the significance of Biff's comment to Happy: "I can't get near him"? (pg 12)
Biff is very bitter and says Willy is always mocking and criticizing him. There's fear of telling his father what he wants to do and longing of their past relationship. Biff cares about Willy and tries to rekindle the relationship but is frustrated.
How does Biff's remark about wasting his life reflect his personality? (pg 13)
Biff tells Happy that he's had 20-30 jobs and once he gets comfortable he thinks it's not going anywhere and moves on. He wants to make his future but doesn't know what to do with himself. Every time he comes back home, he realizes he wasted his life and he's unsettled. Home represents what his life could have and should have been, in large part, because of his father.
How does Happy's comment about his friend in Long Island reflect the priorities of life? (pg 13)
Happy's friend built an estate and immediately sells it because he can't settle. Happy feels the same way as his friend. They're both unfulfilled and unsatisfied. The frustration they have is with the present. Happy has a good job and pays his rent but he's unsettled.
How does Biff use Happy's Long Island friend to support his effort to convince him to go out West? (pg 14)
Biff tries to convince Happy to go out west with him. Happy refuses and says he knows he'll never be content but he's not ready to give it all up. He's envious of his friend because everyone worships him and he makes $52,000 a year. Misery loves company.
How does Willy's comment about Biff and his relationship with girls reflect his relationship with his son? (pg 17)
Willy is in disbelief over his son's relationship with girls (where they fawn over him and pay for him). He says "That so?" implying he's promoting something that's not very good. His relationship with his son is not so much father-son but like friends. Willy encourages Biff in ways he shouldn't (taking advantage of girls, stealing a football, failing math). Willy can't discipline him.
How does Willy's advice to Happy about how to clean the car windows reflect the difference between his relationship with Biff versus his relationship with Happy? (pg 17)
Willy expects more strenuous work from Biff. He purposely gives Happy the easiest job and tells Biff to teach him (like he could do it better). We don't know much about Happy as a child.
Why does Happy tells his father on several occasions in Act 1, "I'm losing weight, you notice, Pop?" (pg 18)
Happy is looking for his father's attention. Biff was the stud athlete and Happy wasn't.
What is significance of Biff's borrowing the football, and how does Willy react? (pg 18)
Willy immediately forgives his act and says he needs to practice. Biff gets away with a lot.
How does the line regarding Charley, "He's liked, but he's not -- well-liked" reflect Willy's philosophy of life? (pg 19)
We never find out what it is that Willy sells. Symbolically, he sells himself by personality and it's unclear what the difference between liked and well-liked is. Linda is the only person who sees him as well-liked. He pushes her aside and cheats on her. Willy becomes engrossed in himself.
How does Willy's depiction of the amount of money he made on the road reflect his perception of reality? (pgs 22-23)
He says if business doesn't pick up, he doesn't know what to do. We idealize the past. When Arthur Miller does flashback scenes, he interjects reality. How much is real?
On pg 24, we clearly see Willy's understanding of how people perceive of him when he refers to the walrus comment. How is his violent reaction significant?
Human nature is to want to be liked. Willy wants so desperately to be liked he becomes angry when somebody doesn't like him. He punched a guy in the face who called him a walrus. He knows he's not the best salesman or the best father or well-liked in general. Willy's violence is indicative of not being able to cope with people not liking him. The irony is the one person who genuinely loves him (Linda), he takes for granted.
How does Willy's flashback about the other woman cross with his relationship with Linda? (pg 25)
Willy has an affair with a woman in Boston. She "picked" him. Reflection of Willy's need/desire to be well-liked. He won't buy Linda new stockings but buys the other woman new stockings. Linda probably knows about his affair since he goes out of focus and talks about the past a lot. Later in Act I, Linda talks about Willy's car crashes and when she says "woman," Biff cuts her off and asks about the woman, to which Linda asks what he means. Hint that they both know (definitely Biff knows) about the mistress or that Linda is being led on about it.
Why does Willy become angry with Linda for mending her stockings? (pg 26)
Linda says she's mending them because they're expensive. Willy takes them away from her because he feels guilty he bought his mistress new stockings but not his wife.
What realities about Biff interfere with Willy's flashback on p. 26?
Willy believes Biff is still a popular high schooler who plays football while Biff is actually in his thirties. Willy has a flashback about Biff not studying for the regent exam and stealing a football and wants to punish him for it, but a few lines later defends him by saying he has spirit and personality. Willy questions what kind of father he is since Biff has done so many wrong things. He's in denial that he's an incompetent father.
How does Willy react to Happy's comment that he would "retire him for life" and how is this response significant? (pg 28)
He replies angrily that Happy would retire him for life on only seventy dollars a week. It's a realistic reaction because there's no way Happy would be able to support him. Willy realizes Happy is being unrealistic. He said the woods are burning and nature is being destroyed. His refuge is being destroyed and he can't drive a car and his sons don't support him anymore. He's asking for help. Linda is the only one who picked up on it. Biff and Happy don't realize until Linda tells them.
Why does Willy become angry with Charley when he offers Willy a job? (pg 29)
Willy says he already has a job and that Charley is insulting him by suggesting he needs a new one. He's in denial that he doesn't make much money anymore from his salesman job, even though he said before business needs to pick up or he won't know what to do. His pride is stopping him.
What comment does Ben make about his success? How is this perceived by Willy? (pg 33)
Ben talks about his time in Alaska and in Africa and how rich he became. He went into the jungle at 17 and at 21 came out rich and already accomplished. Willy finds this amazing and makes him continue talking about it. Ben is the epitome of what Willy wishes he could have been.
What does Willy learn from Ben about his father's profession? (pg 33)
Willy talks to Ben as if he knew very little about his father. Willy learns his father was a great inventor, a flute player, a successful salesman, and a trailblazer. The specter of his father and his brother Ben hangs over Willy. He says he raised Biff and Happy in the same manner as his father - "rugged, well-liked, all around." Parallels between how Willy raised Biff and how his father raised him.
How would you describe Linda's attitude towards her sons as reflected beginning on p. 37?
Linda is always defending Willy and she expects her sons to do the same. It's very uncomfortable because Linda gets nasty that they should make Uncle Charley their father instead since they're unappreciative. Biff and Happy have love and respect for their mother (they call her pal).
"If you don't have any feeling for him [Willy], you don't have any feeling for me." - Linda to Biff
What revelation does Linda share with her sons about Willy's job? (pg 39)
Willy lost his salary and he's now working solely on commission.
What information does Linda know about Willy and Charley which Willy has tried to keep secret? (pg 40)
Willy's been going to Charley every week for $50 to pretend it's his salary.
What does Linda reveal to her sons about Willy's recent car accidents? (pg 41)
They weren't accidents but suicide attempts. She also found the pipe in the basement.
Why does Willy consistently tell Linda not to interrupt him while he is speaking with Biff and Happy?
Every time Linda speaks (saying positive things), Willy snaps at her. Anytime Linda shows how good and loyal and content she is, it reminds him of how guilty he is about the affair. Willy wants to enjoy this moment with his sons and Linda wasn't necessarily part of his vision. When things are going great, Linda can be pushed to the side. When things are going badly, Linda is expected to keep everything together.
How does Willy's advice to Biff about his upcoming meeting with Mr. Oliver contradict itself? (pg 46)
Biff wants to go work for Mr. Oliver to help his family's financial crisis. Willy and Biff talk about Mr. Oliver like he loves Biff and will give him anything. In reality, Mr. Oliver doesn't remember him. Willy tells Biff to be serious and not crack any jokes then a few lines later tells Biff to walk in with a smile and tell some jokes to win him over with his personality.
Why does Happy tell his mother that he is going to get married? (pg 48)
He's trying to lighten the mood. He was the neglected son but always tried to be happy and make others happy. This is something he told his mother numerous times.
How is the last line of Act I significant? (pg 49)
Biff finds the rubber pipe in the basement that Willy wanted to use to kill himself (by breathing in the carbon monoxide). The end of Act 1 was meant to seem like there would be more positivity (Biff getting a job) but negativity underlies it (Willy yelling at Linda). The last line of Act 1 is Willy saying, "Gee, look at the moon moving between the buildings!" Willy sees nature again and signifies his false sense of hope.
ACT II - Where did Biff go early that morning?
Biff went downtown to see Mr. Oliver to get money to start his own business.
What subject did Willy decide to discuss with Howard?
Willy is looking to go to his boss Howard if he could have a job in New York so he doesn't have to drive anymore.
What is the result of Willy's conversation with Howard?
Willy gets fired.
"You can't eat the orange and throw away the peel - a man isn't a piece of fruit!" Explain why Willy says this line.
Howard and the company had the best of Willy and he was at one point the orange inside the peel. After they used him, they want to get rid of him.
"This is no time for false pride, Willy...You've got two great boys, haven't you?" What is sadly ironic about this statement?
Biff and Happy don't support Willy, even though Willy praises his sons all the time.
Why didn't Willy go with Ben years ago when Ben offered him a job?
He had hopes of making it as a salesman and wanted to stay in New York. He saw himself as a man of stability and didn't want to change. Linda convinced him to stay there instead of taking a risk.
Ben says, "What are you building? Lay your hands on it. Where is it?" What is the meaning of this line?
Ben tells Willy that he's not producing anything. He's not successful and won't ever will be. Ben is more tangible and keeps his diamonds.
Where does Willy go after his conversation with Howard?
Willy goes to Charley's office and asks for $110 to pay his insurance. Charley insists that he should work for him and he can't keep paying Willy while he doesn't do any work.
What does Willy ask Bernard?
He asked Bernard where he's going (he's going to Washington - Charley later tells Willy that Bernard is going to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court) and is impressed by the fact that his friends have a tennis court ("must be fine people"). He also asks Bernard how he came so successful (irony: Willy said before in a flashback that kids like him don't make it and personality-driven kids like Biff will). He then asks what went wrong with Biff. Bernard said that Biff would have been okay and would have went to summer school for his failed math class, but something changed when he disappeared for a month visiting Willy.
What was Bernard's reply?
After Biff went to Boston, he completely changed. Bernard said he and Biff got in a fist fight and yet he still has no idea what happened in Boston.
Biff says, "...I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been." What does he mean?
Willy pumped Biff so full of hot air that Biff believed that he was a salesman for Bill Oliver. He realizes that he was just a shipping clerk and was definitely not very high in the ranks. Biff comes face-to-face with the delusion he's been living. He contemplates his life and realizes he could have been a salesman or a football star and he did nothing.
What was the result of Biff's meeting with Bill Oliver?
Oliver doesn't remember him and he never gets an official meeting with him. He waits for hours and Oliver doesn't even recognize Biff.
What does Happy want Biff to tell Willy?
Happy wants to tell Willy that Biff has a lunch date tomorrow with Oliver and he'll think it over for a few weeks. Willy is only happy when he's looking forward to something. Happy wants to create an illusion to keep Willy happy.
Willy says, "...the woods are burning, boys. Can't you understand? There's a big blaze going on all around." What does he mean?
Willy is using nature imagery to convey that everything is falling apart. His one salvation (nature) is burning. This is similar to his reaction when Happy tells him he'll retire him for life.
What does Willy do while Biff is trying to explain the facts of his meeting with Bill Oliver?
Willy continuously interrupts Biff and makes assumptions about the meeting. He's creating an illusion in his head about what he hoped happened. Willy tells Happy to stop interrupting, similarly to Linda.
What does Biff take from Bill Oliver and why?
Biff takes Bill Oliver's lucky fountain pen. He had it in his hand when Oliver walked in the room and nervously put it in his pocket so he wouldn't see. Ultimately, he makes the decision to keep the fountain pen. He ran down 11 flights of stairs with the pen. It's impulsive for Biff (like the football).
Identify Miss Forsythe and Letta.
They are two women that Happy and Biff meet that are probably prostitutes because Happy keeps saying they're on call. They're supposed to be with their father for dinner but blow him off for the women.
Where does Willy go in the restaurant when he is introduced to the women and why?
Willy has a breakdown and goes to the bathroom after seeing his sons occupied with the women. Willy was so happy to be with his sons for dinner but is devastated when they don't want to talk to him.
What is Biff's opinion of his father now when he speaks to Miss Forsythe?
Biff says that his father is unappreciated and his is a prince. Biff is being genuine and getting sentimental, probably because he's had a couple drinks.
Why can't Biff help Willy?
Willy doesn't want to be helped so it's hard for them to communicate with each other. Biff gets frustrated with Willy. Biff tells Happy that he can't lie to Willy anymore and try to make him happy.
Happy denies that Willy is his father. Why?
Happy is embarrassed by his father. He disowns his troubled, broken-down father. Happy was acting cruel.
What happened in Boston? What do we finally learn is the problem, the secret between Willy and Biff?
Biff goes to the hotel to see his father and saw there was a woman in his hotel room and she was naked in the bathroom. Biff realized that Willy was cheating and Biff was so angry and upset that he would do that to his mother so he cried. We also see the woman whom he had an affair with had the stockings that were meant for Linda.
Why did Biff go to Boston in the first place?
Biff went to see his father in Boston after failing math and wanted him to talk to his teacher to try to get him out of summer school. Biff is looking for his father to fix his problem. After finding out his father is cheating on his mother, he stops trusting and relying on Willy.
Where does Willy go after he realizes that the boys have left him at the restaurant?
Willy talks to Stanley and then goes to the hardware store to get (carrots and peas) seeds. Willy's escape is nature and he wants to replace the nature that burned all around him.
Why does Linda knock the flowers to the floor?
Biff and Happy were trying to console her because they figure that their father must have told Linda by this point what happened at dinner. She was understandably angry at them for abandoning their father in the bathroom and not checking up on him to go out with some women. She knocked the flowers to the floor.
Willy says, "A man can't go out the way he came in, Ben, a man has got to add up to something." What does that mean?
Willy's desire to be well-liked is not fulfilled. Willy is realizing his life and career has failed and he needs to leave this world on top. He can't go on a down note with being fired and having lost the respect of his sons. This desire leads to his suicide. Ben represents everything that Willy aspired to be. Ben went into the jungle and conquered the world. Willy thinks killing himself will get Ben and his son's approval.
Why does Willy decide to kill himself?
Willy thinks this will make Biff proud. Willy believes that the life insurance from his death will get Biff enough money ($22,000) for his business. It turns out he didn't even get the life insurance because he committed suicide. Willy expected to have a lot of people at his funeral and it'll make Biff happy to see. Dave Singleman, a great salesman who Willy admired, had hundreds of people at his funeral and Willy expected the same.
What does Biff want to tell Willy before he is ready to go?
Biff wanted to forgive Willy for everything he's done (including the woman in Boston) and he loves him. The only way this would work is if Biff leaves (Linda also thinks that's for the best). Biff was arrested in Kansas City because he stole suits and that's why he didn't write for a few months. Willy doesn't want to hear that truth and said he can't blame him for that. Biff just wants to end things on a positive note. Willy can't accept that Biff will leave him and constantly uses the word "spite."
Biff says, "Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?" What is the significance of this line?
Biff wants Willy to stop living in lies and live in reality. Willy thinks too highly of Biff. Biff tells him to "burn it" which is ironic because Willy dies in a fiery car crash.
What is Willy's response to Biff's whole scene when Biff ends up crying? How is his crying significant?
Willy undergoes a shift and instead of saying he's spiting him, he realizes Biff loves him and is crying for him. Biff's crying reflects that he has feelings for his father. Willy finds it remarkable that he cried for him and not his mother (playback to the Boston moment). Willy knows that Linda is closer to the boys than he is. Willy realizes for the first time that Biff really does love him and he says that boy will be magnificent. Willy says Biff crying for him is "remarkable" (playback to when he said Charley being his only friend is remarkable). Happy and Linda chime in that Biff always loved Willy. That's the moment that solidifies he was going to kill himself to give Biff the insurance money and to show how many people will be at his funeral. Willy dies fairly happily.
Ben says, "The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy." Explain.
While the jungle was difficult, Ben comes out with diamonds. Ben is a figment of Willy's mind. Willy has suffered but will come out, like his brother, with diamonds.
What does Willy eventually do?
Willy drifts off in what he was saying to Ben and realizes his loneliness. He kills himself by crashing his car.
Why is the car an appropriate device for his death? How is it symbolic?
He was a driving salesman. The car was the source of making a living for his family. The car symbolizes everything that Willy was. The car is driving him to his final job (in his head) of getting the insurance money.
Biff says, "He had all the wrong dreams. All, all wrong." Explain.
Willy was at his happiest when working with his hands (building the stoop, chopping trees, etc). Willy should have never been a salesman. Everyday, he sold himself so people would buy the items he was selling and it wore himself out.
Based on the events of the play and our knowledge of the characters, what will probably become of Biff and Happy?
Biff will detach himself, go out west, and do what he is passionate about. Happy will try to fulfill empty dreams, like his father.
Linda says, "We're free and clear." What is the double meaning here?
Because the house is paid off, she is free of payment. Also she no longer has to deal with Willy. She will grieve him, of course, but she will be able to move on with her life. Willy is no longer holding Biff back either.
THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
English Final Vocabulary Review
Death of a Salesman Test
Tartan APUSH: Chapters 31 to 33 (Roaring Twenties,…
Western Civilization Chapter 22
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
Death of a Salesman - Act 1 and 2
Death of a Salesman Act II and Requiem
Death of a Salesman Act II and Requiem
Death Of A Salesman Act 1 Questions
OTHER SETS BY THIS CREATOR
Business Law Final
Business Law 201 Exam 2