D e a t h O f T h e S a l e s m a n
Setting: The Salesman's house. Only the blue light of the sky falls on the house, while the surrounding area shows an angry orange glow. There is a solid vault of apartment houses around the small and fragile home. The kitchen is sparse, with only a table and three chairs and a refrigerator. A draped entrance leads to the living room. The setting is partially transparent.
Act One: A flute is heard. Willy Loman, the Salesman, enters carrying two large sample cases. He is past sixty and dresed quietly. Linda, his wife, has stirred in her bed at the right. She is most often jovial and developed an iron repression of her exceptions to Willy's behavior. She calls to him, thinking that something has happened. She thinks that he has smashed the car. He could not make it to his destination- he only reached Yonkers. He complains about his shoes- the arch supports- and says that he was driving along, even observing the scenery. All of a sudden he forget that he was driving. He says that he has strange thoughts. Linda tells him to talk to his boss about working in New York. He says that he is vital in New England. She tells him to talk to Howard Wagner. Linda tells him that the boys, Happy and Biff, are sleeping. Willy thinks upon the irony: they worked a lifetime to pay off a house that now nobody really lives in. Linda tells him that he shouldn't have criticized Biff. Willy says that he is moody, and questions Biff's quest to 'find himself' on a farm. He calls him lazy, then says 'the one thing about Biff, he's not lazy.' Willy feels boxed in by the other houses surrounding them.
Biff and Happy wake up and hear Willy talking to himself. Happy thinks that Willy may have smashed the car up again. He is tall and powerfully made. Sexuality is visible on him. Biff is two years older, with a more worn and less self-assured air. Happy says that he's nervous about Willy, and Biff thinks that his eyes are going. Happy and Biff think about the women they've been with. Biff asks Happy why Dad mocks him all the time. Happy tells him that he wants Biff to make good. Biff says that he doesn't know what he is supposed to want. Biff says that he wants to be outside. Biff asks Happy if he is content, and he says that he isn't, though he is making money. He wonders what he works for, though he has his own apartment and job. Biff invites him to go West to work with him. Happy says that the women he has sex with are meaningless to him- sex is merely a physical act. Charlotte, the girl he was with last night, was engaged. Biff asks Happy if he remembers Bill Oliver, who is very big now. Biff used to work for him, but fired him after Biff stole a carton of basketballs a decade before. They listen to Willy mumble.
1928. Willy warns Biff not to make promises of any kind to a girl. They are polishing their car. Willy has brought the two a punching bag from his last trip. They are excited about it. Willy sees that Biff has a new football, and wonders where he got it. Biff stole it from the locker room, and Willy tells him to return it. Willy then rationalizes the theft, and says that the Coach will probably congratulate Biff's initiative to practice more. Willy says that he will have his own business, though bigger than Uncle Charley because Charley is not well liked. Willy brags about meeting the mayor of Providence. Bernard, an earnest and loyal, worried boy, enters. He tells Biff that they are supposed to study together. Bernard warns Biff that Mr. Birnbaum will flunk him, but Willy doesn't believe it. Bernard leaves, and Willy says that Bernard is liked, but not well liked. Willy puts great stock in Biff and Happy's appearances. Linda enters, and asks how much Willy sold. He says he did five hundred gross and seven hundred in Boston, but then says it was only 180 in Providence and 200 gross total. Willy makes excuses. Willy says that he'll knock them dead in Hartford the next week. He worries that he is fat and foolish to look at. Linda says that he is the handsomest. A woman's laughter can be heard. She primps at the mirror. Willy is seen talking to her. He seems to have an affair with her. The woman disappears. Willy promises to make it up to Linda for not being a success that week. Linda is mending her stockings, but Willy takes them from her and says that he won't have her doing that. Bernard enters, and Willy tells him to give Biff the answers. Linda worries that Biff is too rough with the girls. Willy explodes at Linda, telling her that he doesn't want Biff to be like Bernard. He wonders about Biff's stealing.
Happy comes downstairs. Willy wonders why he didn't go to Alasks with his brother, Ben. Ben ended up with diamond mines. He walked into a jungle, and came out rich. Happy tells Willy that he is going to retire him. He says that the woods are burning, and he can't drive a car. Charley enters, a large man who is slow of speech, laconic and immovable. He wonders if everything is all right, He heard some noise. Charley sends Happy away, and they play cards. Charley offers Willy a job, but he is insulted. Charley tells Willy to let Biff go to Texas, for he won't starve there. Charley admires the ceiling that Willy put up. Ben, carrying a valise and umbrella, enters. There is an aura of far places about him. His music is heard. Willy speaks to Ben, but to cover it up, tells Charley that he reminds him of Ben. Ben died in Africa. He had seven sons. Ben tells Willy that he has several properties that he is looking at in Alaska. Willy tells Charley that everything would be different if he went to Africa. Ben asks Willy if Mother is living with him. Willy says that Mother died. Charley doesn't wonder what is happening. Willy screams at Charley for supposedly cheating at cards. Charley leaves, and Willy concentrates on Ben. Ben says that he ended up in Africa instead of Alaska. Young Biff and Happy appear, and Ben tells them his story. Willy tells Ben to tell the children about Dad. He played the flute. Ben says that his father was a great and wild-hearted man. He was a great inventor. Ben and Biff spar, and Linda wonders why they must fight. Willy says that they're able to hunt even in Brooklyn. Willy sends Biff and Happy to steal sand from the apartment building. Charley warns Willy about it. Bernard rushes in and says that the watchman is chasing Biff. Ben says that he must leave.
Linda enters the kitchen and finds Willy outside in the yard. Willy thinks about the watch fob that Ben gave him which he pawned. Biff wonders how often Willy talks to himself. Biff wonders why he never knew before. Linda says that Willy is worst when Biff comes home. She wonders why the two are so hateful to each other. Biff notices how gray Linda's hair has become. Linda tells Biff that if he has no feeling for his father, then he has no feeling for her. Linda says that Willy is the dearest man in the world to her. Linda warns Biff not to go near him. Biff says that Willy always wiped the floor with Linda and is crazy, with no character. Linda says that he should make Charley his father, then. Linda says that Willy is exhausted. Linda says that Willy has been put only on commission. Linda calls her sons ingrates: one of his sons is philandering (Happy), and the other doesn't loev him. Biff says that Willy threw him out of the house because he knew Willy was a fake. Biff says that he hates this city, but he will stay. Linda thinks that Willy has been trying to kill himself. She mentions a woman, and Biff says "What woman" as if he knows exactly. She thinks that Willy's life is in Biff's hands. Happy yells at Biff for never wanting to impress anybody- like when he whistled in the elevator while working at Harrison's. Biff says that he doesn't care what the busines world thinks, and that they don't belong in the city, but instead doing manual labor. Willy enters, and says that even their grandfather was better than a carpenter. Willy reacts angrily against Happy's line that people laugh at him. Biff tells him that he is leaving tomorrow to see Bill Oliver to stake him. He wants to sell sporting goods. Biff merely says that he will see Oliver, but Willy thinks that there must be more. Happy has an idea: he and Biff could form two basketball teams and play each other and use that to sell sporting goods. Biff vows to see Oliver the next day. Linda thinks that things might be getting better. Willy gives them advice. Willy yells at Linda for taking Biff's side. Happy decides to help Biff get ready by going shopping for ties.
Linda asks Willy if he can do anything about the shower. She worries that Oliver won't remember them. Willy gives Biff more advice. Linda wonders what Biff has against Willy.
Act Two: Gay and bright music is heard. Willy is drinking coffee. He slept well that night. Linda says that Biff was very changed- he couldn't wait to see Oliver. Willy thinks about the good things that will happen to the boys. Linda asks Willy if he is going to talk to Howard about taking him off road duty. Linda says that they are short again. Willy complains about buying a Hasting refrigerator instead of a General Electric. After another mortgage payment, the house is theirs. Linda tells Willy to meet the boys at Frank's Chop House at six for dinner. Willy goes. Biff calls Linda. She tells Biff that Willy took away the rubber pipe himself. Biff tells her that he took it. Biff had not seen Oliver yet.
Willy tells Howard that he needs to talk to him. Howard shows Willy his wire recorder, which he bought for dictation. Howard demonstrates it to Willy. Howard wonders why Willy isn't in Boston. Howard thinks that Willy cracked up again. Willy tells Howard that he doesn't want to travel anymore. Willy says that he's tired, and wants to work in New York now. Howard tells him that there is no spot for him. Willy tells Howard about how his father lived many years in Alaska. He almost met, when he met Dave Singleman, who was eighty-four and had drummed merchandise up in 34 states. He could pick up the phone and make sales without leaving his room. When he died, hundreds of salesmen and buyers were at his funeral. He worries that people don't know him anymore. Willy tells him that he can't just throw him away. Willy accidentally turns on the wire recorder, and it frightens him. Howard fires Willy. Ben's music is heard. Ben enters. Willy asks Ben how he did it. Ben says that it doesn't take much time if you know what you're doing. Willy tells Ben to look at Happy and Biff, as Happy carries Biff's football equipment. He thinks about Biff's prospects. Ben tells Willy that there's a new continent at his doorstep. Ben leaves, and Bernard rushes in. They are going to Ebbet's Field to watch Biff's big game. Charley enters, not nkowing that today is the day of the big game. Charley tells him that Ebbet's Field just blew up. Willy yells at Charley, challenging him to a fight.
Jenny tells Bernard that Mr. Loman is coming to see him. He greets Bernard, , who is a quiet but self-assured man. Bernard is a lawyer with a wife and two boys. Bernard asks about Biff's deal Willy asks Bernard what the secret is about Biff's failure. Bernard says that Biff never trained himself for anything. Bernard asks Willy if he told Biff not to go to summer school. Willy says that Biff merely got angry and went to see Willy, then disappeared for a month. When he came back he burned his sneakers. They got in a fist fight. Bernard asked what happened in Boston. Willy says that nothing happened. Charley enters. Bernard tells Willy that sometimes it is better for a man just to walk away. Charley says that Bernard is going to argue in front of the Supreme Court. Charley offers Willy a job again. Charley merely loans him money, because that is all that Willy will accept. Willy says how he would be better off dead. Charley thinks Willy's belief in 'liked' people is foolish. Charley realizes how jealous Willyis of him. Willy tells Charley that he's his only friend.
Stanley, the waiter, puts a table down. Happy tells Stanley that Biff is back, and that he wants nice lobsters for their meal and champagne. Happy realizes that a girl enters at the next table. Stanley goes to the girl's table. Happy orders champagne for the girl. Happy flirts with her. She is Miss Forsythe. Biff enters, and asks where Dad is. Happy introduces Biff. Happy tells her that Biff is the quarterback with the New York Giants. Miss Forsythe goes to make a phone call. Biff says that he never got to see Oliver. When he saw him, Oliver walked away. Biff accidentally took his fountain pen. Happy tells Biff to say that he has a lunch date with Oliver. Happy tells him to leave the house tomorrow and say that Oliver is thinking it over, then come back in a couple weeks. Willy enters. Biff tells Willy that it has been a strange day. Willy, confused, thought that Biff was a salesman with Oliver (he was a shipping clerk). Willy says that the woods are burning and he was fired. Willy thinks that Oliver would have throw his arm around him. Biff gets angry at Willy, who keeps interrupting. Bernard enters, calling to Linda. Willy begins ranting about math, then tells Biff that if he hadn't flunked he'd be set by now. Bernard tells Linda that Biff flunked math and went to the Grand Central. Bill says that he is washed up with Oliver. Willy thinks about his hotel room years ago. Biff gets down on one knee and promises to make good. Biff lies to Willy and says that he is supposed to have lunch with him. Biff gets angry at Willy for not crediting his sympathy. Willy thinks that Biff is spiting him. The woman tells Willy that someone is at the door. The girls enter. Miss Forsythe introduces Letta to them. She has jury duty tomorrow. Willy thinks upon Biff's visit to the hotel room. Willy leaves. Biff wants to do something for him, but Happy is preoccupied with the girls. Biff tells Happy that Willy is going to kill himself. Happy denies to the girls that Willy is his father. Willy tells the Woman to stop laughing. She tells him that he ruined her. Willy orders her into the bathroom. He lets Biff in, who has a suitcase. Biff tells Willy that he flunked math. He asks Willy to go talk to Birnbaum. Birnbaum hates Biff because he made fun if his lisp. The woman enters, and Willy tries to cover up. Willy tells her to get out. He tells Biff that she is a buyer for J.H. Simmons. Biff starts to cry. He tells Willy never mind. Biff calls him a fake and a liar. Willy orders him back.
Willy returns, and Stanley tells him that they left with two women. Willy asks if there is a seed store in the neighborhood. Stanley says that there is a hardware store, but it may not be open.
Happy comes home, and asks Linda where Willy is. Happy brought her flowers. She knocks them to the floor. Linda asks Happy if he cares whether Willy lives or dies. Linda orders Biff out. Happy denies that they deserted him. Happy tells her that he merely followed Biff around, tryign to cheer him up. Biff wants to talk to Willy. Willy is outside, planting a garden. Ben appears. Willy says that it's a twenty-thousand dollar proposition." Ben asks what the proposition is. When he is told, Ben said that they might not honor the policy. Willy says that his funeral will be massive. Ben tells Willy that Biff will call him a coward. Willy wonders where the seeds are. Biff tells Linda that he is leaving and not writing anymore. Willy accuses Biff of cutting down his life for spite. Biff calls him a phony, then whips out the rubber house and puts it on the table. Biff asks if this is meant to make him feel sorry for Willy. Biff says that there will be no pity for him. Biff tells Willy that he was in jail for three months in Kansas City for stealing a suit. He says that he stole himself out of every job since high school. Biff tells Willy that he is not a leader of men, and neither is he. Willy calls Biff spiteful and vengeful, and starts up the stairs, but Biff stops him. Biff breaks down and sobs. Willy asks why he is crying. Willy realizes that Biff likes him. Willy says that Biff is going to be magnificent. Happy tells Linda that he is getting married and is going to run the department. Ben enters. Willy tells Linda to go to bed, and that he'll be up in two minutes. Willy says that when the mail comes, Biff will be ahead of Bernard again. Sounds, faces, voices seem to swarm in upon Willy. Willy rushes off around the house. Linda calls for Willy. There is the sound of a car starting and movnig away. The music develops into a dead march. Charley and Bernard appear and knock on the kitchen door. Biff and Happy descend teh stairs. Linda, in clothes of mourning, bearing a little bunch of roses, comes through the doorway. She takes Charley's arm. All mvoe toward the audience. Linda lays down teh flowers, kneels, and sits back.
Requiem: Charley tells Linda that it's getting dark. Happy says that Willy had no right to do what he did. Linda wonders why nobody came. Biff reminisces on the nice days. Biff said that he had the wrong dreams, and Happy tells him not to say that. Biff said that he never knew who he was. Charley says that nobody blames Willy, for he was a salesman, and there is no rock bottom for a salesman. A salesman had to dream. Happy vows to stay in teh city and beat the racket. Happy says that Willy Loman didn't die in vain. Linda cannot cry, for it just seems like Willy is on another trip. She made the last payment on the house. They're free. Biff lifts her to her feet and moves out up right wiht her in his arms. She sobs quietly. Only the flute music is heard. The curtain falls.