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Death of a Salesman Act II and Requiem
Terms in this set (15)
Why is Willy's mood upbeat at the start of Act Two? What does he expect to happen?
•He slept good for the first time in months; Biff is meeting with Oliver to ask for a loan for a new business; Willy and Linda's refrigerator and house are almost all paid off; he's having dinner with his sons at Frank's Chop House on 48th near 6th Avenue
•Willy thinks he's going to talk to his boss Howard and get an advance and a non-traveling job in New York; expects to hear good news about the loan from his sons
Why does Willy tell Howard about Dave Singleman? Describe the dramatic effect when Howard listens to the voices of his family while Willy tries to talk business. Why does Howard tell Willy to drop off his samples and forbid him to go to Boston? Why is this such a blow to Willy?
•Dave Singleman was an 84-year-old salesman. He made sales from his house and made his living from home. Willy explains how back than it was more personal and there was respect, and comradeship, and gratitude in salesmanship. Willy tells Howard about Dave Singleman because he wants a non-traveling job that still embodies what Willy believes in (Dave drove Willy to become a salesman and not go to Alaska with his brother and father).
•By placing the importance of the recorder above Willy's need to speak with him, Howard illustrates that he perceives Willy as insignificant. Although Willy desperately needs to ask Howard, Willy patiently engages himself by demonstrating interest as he listens to the recordings of Howard's family. By indulging Howard, this is an opportunity for Willy to bond with him (gaining Howard's sympathy toward his argument and making Howard more susceptible to Willy's request). Howard tells Willy that his daughter is crazy about him and that his son has great potential. This is very important from the standpoint that it's reflective of how Willy's own children once felt about him and the potential he saw in them (particularly Biff). Willy thinks that once he's listened to Howard's recordings and shown interest that he will have Howard's undivided attention. But Willy's efforts go unnoticed and Howard refuses Willy's requests.
•Howard doesn't want Willy to represent the firm anymore and he's been meaning to tell Willy that for a while. Howard says the Willy needs a good long rest and when he feels better he can come back in and they'd work something out. Howard tells Willy to drop off his samples whenever he can during the week. He basically fires Willy.
•This is such a blow to Willy because he came into the day with such high hopes and expectations. It is also a huge blow to his fragile ego. It blows because he got fired
What is Willy's philosophy? How does Biff as a football hero embody his father's dreams? Why does Charley say Willy hasn't grown up?
•Willy says that it's about contacts, and everybody you know. Willy's philosophy is that a person becomes wealthy on the basis of being well liked (success is based on popularity instead of hard-work).
•Biff as high school football hero embodies his father's dreams of being popular. Willy often says the importance of being well-liked. Willy thinks that if one is popular then success and wealth will automatically follow. His father is so proud of Biff and knows that when he wins this game he'll be even more popular and his son is going to be so successful.
•Charley says Willy hasn't grown up because he is placing so much importance on football and not hard work.
What is Willy's impression of Bernard when he sees him in his father's office? Why does Willy exaggerate Biff's importance? Why does Bernard ask what happened after the game at Ebbets Field?
•His impression is a contradictory feeling of proud and envy. When he finds out Bernard is going to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, Willy is shocked, happy, and pained.
•It's his son, he wants him to look like a success to Bernard (Biff's childhood friend).
•Because Biff changed after the game. Willy asked Bernard what his secret to success was. Bernard asked Willy what happened to Biff. After Biff failed his math final he was ready to take on summer school and then go to college, but after a visit to New England with Willy he burned his favorite University of Virginia sneakers and fought Bernard. Bernard wanted to know if Willy said something to Biff to make him not go to summer school.
Why won't Willy work for Charley? Why is Willy able to ask Charley for money? How is Charley's view of what a salesman needs different from Willy's view?
•Willy won't work for Charley because he stubbornly believes that he is better than him, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Willy is too proud to work for Charley.
•Willy is able to ask Charley for money because underneath the phony exterior that he presents, Willy does truly admire Charley. In the office Willy tells Charley that he's the only friend that Willy has. Willy also shares a bond with Charley because they are both salesman. Lastly, because Willy lost his job and wants to pay off his insurance
•Willy thinks that a salesman needs to be well-liked, he thinks that being popular brings value. Charley says you don't have to be well-liked and he tell Willy that it is the wealth that people are impressed with, not the person (he gives the example who liked J.P. Morgan, he was only popular with his pockets on).
In the restaurant, how does Happy reflect Willy's values? Why does Miller have the girls come in?
•Happy and his father Willy are both salesmen. When Happy first meets the women, he cons them into believing he sells Champagne and that his brother Biff is a football star for the Giants. Happy can charm the prostitute just like Willy can. Just like his father, Happy is a con artist and womanizer.
•To reinforce and show how Willy has influenced his sons. Also Miller decides to have the girls come in because it is a foreshadow about what is to come. It is a reminder to Willy of the event that happened in the hotel room in Boston and forces Willy to confront his past (the truth of it, not the lie he likes to pretend is the truth).
How does Biff's realization that his life is a lie underline the theme of the play? Why does Biff take Bill Oliver's fountain pen? Why can't he tell his father what happened with Bill Oliver? Why do Biff and Happy leave Willy at the restaurant?
•Biff realizes that he was never a salesman for Oliver and that he merely worked for him as a low level employee. Biff realizes his life is a lie and he's tired of it. Biff takes the pen because it's something Biff will never have. The pen in itself is a metaphor/symbol for the American Dream. Since Biff hasn't acquired the dream through good deeds and hard work he gets upset and metaphorically tries to take it by force.
•Biff waited for six hours, nearly the entire day. He kept having the secretary send his name in to Mr. Oliver's office but there was no answer. When Oliver finally came out he didn't recognize Biff. Biff was so embarrassed he didn't even talk to Oliver as he left. So, because Oliver doesn't remember Biff and he can't get a loan, Biff takes his fountain pen. Biff stole while growing up and he still steals as an adult. He takes what he wants without hesitation. He blames his father for this habit because Willy didn't punish him for stealing when he was young and instill in him a sense of integrity.
•Biff tries to tell Willy the truth about what happened. However, Willy interrupts him and tells Biff that Howard had fired him today. Willy says he needs to go home with good news to tell Linda.
•Biff leaves Willy at the restaurant in anger because of his father's inability to accept reality as it is. Willy starts to mentally break down and begins talking to himself. Happy tells the girls that Willy isn't his father, and leaves to prevent anymore problems, trying to make sure he will sleep with the girls. Happy shows his obsession with women, and his father having a wife and a mistress, has influenced him.
Why did Biff go to Boston? What does he discover when he sees the Woman? Why is it that Biff never went to summer school? Why can't he believe in his father?
•Biff failed math, and he goes to Boston because he wants Willy to come back with him and talk to his teacher. Biff tells Willy that he know the way Willy talks, so if he were to talk to his teacher, his teacher would surely give him the four points to pass the class.
•Biff realizes when he see the Woman, that Willy is cheating on Linda. Biff also realizes that his father is a liar and that his father's life is a lie.
•Biff doesn't attend summer school because he realizes that he father, his idol, is fake and doesn't have the great qualities which Biff had formerly believed his father held. Biff doesn't go because he has given up on success for himself and his family. His father's moral weakness reminds Biff of his own shortcomings (his stealing habits) and that his father's encouragements and hope for his family to succeed had no real foundation.
•Biff can't believe in his father because he thinks his father is a liar. His father has been cheating on Biff's mother, Linda, and now Biff cannot trust Willy. Biff thought his father's encouragements and knowing that his boys were going to succeed was comforting, but now that he realizes his father was a liar he questions everything.
Why does Linda tell the boys, "Get out of here, both of you, and don't come back!"?
•Linda is angry that the boys left their father at the restaurant rambling on in one of his daydreams. Willy was looking forward to lunch and hears nothing but bad news and is abandoned by his sons. Linda says the boys don't care and are lazy and useless, so she kicks them out. Linda tells the boys to never come back.
Why does Willy keep planting seeds when they've never grown before? Why does Willy think Biff will be impressed with his funeral? Why does Ben say that Biff will call Willy a fool?
•He keeps planting seeds in hope that they'll grow one of these days. Willy doesn't wish to give up on his hopes for a future and some kind of memory of himself or his existence after his death. Earlier in the book he tells Linda how they're going to plant rows of crops and live alone off the land and build two guest houses for their sons and future families. Willy thinks that by stopping planting, his dream is gone forever.
•Willy hopes that his funeral will be well attended. Willy thinks Biff will be impressed by his funeral because so many people from all around will come because Willy is so well liked. By showing Biff how well liked he is, this will ultimately impress him and make Biff like Willy more.
•Ben tells Willy that Biff will think he's a fool because Biff is going to know that Willy killed himself to show off the funeral of how well liked he is. Ben tells Biff Willy will think he's foolish because there are better qualities than just being well liked.
Why doesn't Willy want to see Linda? Why does he think Biff is spitting him? Why does Biff show him the rubber hose? Why does Biff confront Willy and Happy?
•Willy feels guilty and shameful, that is why he doesn't want to see Linda. Willy is embarrassed at the enormity of his thoughtless actions, and he realizes their impact in Act II.
•He thinks Biff is spitting him because of his failure. Willy thinks Biff is still spiting him and thinking Willy caused him to flunk math. Willy also believes that Biff is spiting him and mocking him because he is not successful, this causes Willy to think that Biff doesn't like him.
•Biff shows Willy the rubber hose because he wants to show Willy the truth. Biff says he's tired of living life in a lie so he shows Willy the truth, even though Willy doesn't believe he or his sons are failures.
•Biff is desperate to bring his father to the realization that greatness is not in the destiny of any of the Loman's. He shows Willy the pipe to reinforce his fallibility, and confronts his father and his brother to see their own flaws. Willy does not want to accept that his sons are as doomed as he is, and Believes Biff is spiting him.
What does Biff do that elates Willy? How does Happy try to attract Willy's attention? How does Ben influence Willy at this point?
•Biff cries because he cares for Willy. This makes Willy elated.
•Happy tries to attract Willy's attention after Biff goes to bed after crying in front of Willy. Happy tells Willy that one of these days he's going to get married. Happy also tells Willy that he's changing everything and that he's going to run the department store that he works at before the year is up.
•Ben influences Willy because he doesn't push him away from killing himself to get money, $20,000.
What is a requiem? What is the purpose of this final act? To what extent is it successful?
•A mass for the dead
•The purpose is to serve as a funeral for Willy
•Only Charley, Biff, Happy, and Linda show up for the funeral.
Charley says: "No man only needs a little salary." To what is he referring? What else does a man need?
•He is referring to Willy, a man needs a little salary but a man also needs a dream
Explain the irony of Linda's last speech.
•Linda is now free from watching over Willy
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