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From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes , the SparkNotes Death of a Salesman Study Guide has everything you need to. Death of a Salesman quiz that tests what you know. Perfect prep for Death of a Salesman quizzes and tests you might have in school. Death of a Salesman Summary. As a flute melody plays, Willy Loman returns to his home in Brooklyn one night, exhausted from a failed sales trip. As Biff and Happy, dissatisfied with their lives, fantasize about buying a ranch out West, Willy becomes immersed in a daydream.
The play examines the cost of blind faith in the American Dream. It incorporates many conflicts that are slowly simmering. Other editions may vary slightly. Abdullah Khalil. Biff has also experienced a moment of truth.
Biff makes no attempt to blame anyone for the course that his life has taken.
A salesman is got to dream. She wonders where all his supposed business friends are and how he could have killed himself when they were so close to paying off all of their bills.
American working-class Christ-figure. In this way. Happy be-. Biff recalls that Willy seemed happier working on the house than he did as a salesman. Willy dies not only for his own sins but also for the sins of his sons. Willy is able. According to Ben. Charley replies that a salesman has to dream or he is lost. A kind of perverse.
Willy does experience a sort of revelation: Like Charley says. One can argue that. Just as Willy is blind to the totality of the American Dream. The odd. She apologizes for her inability to cry. The flute music is heard and the high-rise apartments surrounding the Loman house come into focus. His words serve as a kind of respectful eulogy that removes blame from Willy as an individual by explaining the grueling expectations and absurd demands of his profession. Willy Loman is the postwar American equivalent of the medieval crusader.
According to Charley. She reports to Willy that she made the last payment on the house. It seems inevitable that the trip toward meaningful death that Willy now takes will end just as fruitlessly as the trip from which he has just returned as the play opens. Willy bought the sales pitch that America uses to advertise itself. To an extent. Willy has done everything that the myth of the American Dream outlines as the key path to success. The values that the myth espouses are not designed to assuage human insecurities and doubts.
Willy has failed to receive the fruits that the American Dream promises. He raised a family and journeyed forth into the business world full of hope and ambition. His primary problem is that he continues to believe in the myth rather than restructuring his conception of his life and his identity to meet more realistic standards.
He acquired a home and the range of modern appliances. In so highly esteeming Singleman and deeming his on-the-job death as dignified. I saw the things that I love in this world. And when I saw that. He is discussing how he decided to become a salesman after meeting Dave Singleman. Willy fails to see the human side of Singleman. The work and the food and the time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and I thought. Whereas Willy cannot comprehend any notion of individual.
He envisions Singleman as a happy man but ignores the fact that Singleman was still working at age eighty-four and might likely have experienced the same financial difficulties and consequent pressures and misery as Willy. He sees the stupidity of stealing the pen and renounces the commercial world. Biff will at last fulfill the expectations that he.
The fact that Willy uses gardening as a metaphor for success and failure. While he is planting the seeds and conversing with Ben. Willy realizes. Biff realizes that he can be happy only outside these confines.
Willy latches onto this appealing idea. A diamond is hard and rough to the touch. Ben suggests. Willy never blossomed into the Dave Singleman figure that he idolizes. Though his figurative roots are in sales Ben claims that their father was a successful salesman. Willy failed even to recognize that he had any choice in life. Willy had only the insubstantial smile on his face and shine of his shoe with which to sell himself. Charley likens the salesman to a heroic.
Willy still had to go out and give it his best. Willy Loman. Greek gods and mythic heroes Adonis. Dave Singleman. He convinces himself that he is capable of doing so. Since his father left him with nothing. Willy returns to his home a defeated man. Willy knows little about his father and thus has to ask Ben to tell Biff and Happy about their grandfather. Willy is a much older man. As an additional consequence of being abandoned. Willy feels an acute need to put his sons—especially Biff—on the right path in life.
Willy would set out each week to make a load of money. There is less room to expand. The house was surrounded by space and sunlight. His home now represents the reduction of his hopes. When the play opens. When Willy and Linda purchased their home. Willy was a young man with ambitious hopes for the future. When he returned. After these blows. Biff believes that he failed to succeed in business precisely because Willy sold him so successfully on the American Dream of easy success.
Somewhat childlike. Even as an adult. Willy proudly shows his sons to Ben. Willy returns home like a dejected child. Willy craves approval and reacts to any perceived hint of dislike by either throwing a tantrum or retreating into self-pity.
On the other hand. What evidence can we find to show that the past is not as idyllic as Willy imagines it to be? Willy believes that his affair prevented him from selling Biff on the American Dream.
How are their explanations different? By the time he took his first job. Willy begs him to stay a little longer. What evidence can we find to show that Willy may have chosen a profession that is at odds with his natural inclinations? Biff was so convinced that success would inevitably fall into his lap that he was unwilling to work hard in order to advance to more important positions.
Howard abandons Willy by firing him. When Ben notes that he has to leave to catch his train. Biff did not want to start at the bottom and deal with taking orders. How does it function as a way for Willy to cope with the failure to realize his ambitions? What evidence can we find to show that Willy misses the distinction between being loved and being well liked? Brooklyn C.
New England B. A suit D. Seeds C. Money D. What product does Willy sell? A crate of basketballs B.
New Jersey. Robbing banks 2. A car 3. Queens and Long Island D. Working on a farm D. A trophy B. A wire recorder C. Appliances C. Laying railroad tracks B. Sporting goods D. A pen 4. Bibles B. For what region is Willy responsible in his sales? Selling dishwashers C. What was Biff doing in the West before the play begins? Where did Ben end up when he went looking for his father? Spain C. How old was Dave Singleman when he died? Hartford C. Boston Where does Biff find Willy with The Woman?
Alaska C. False teeth 8. Flutes B. Alabama B. Brooklyn D. Pizzas D. Africa B. Alaska D. Manhattan B.
Dictionaries C. Las Vegas 9. How old is Happy? Providence D. Salesman B. Where does Happy work? The Carnegie Deli Saturday B. In a factory B. English C. What is the name of the restaurant where Happy and Biff take Willy?
On Wall Street In a store C. Shipping clerk Physics D. Manager C. Window dresser D. What subject did Biff fail in high school? How much money does Charley usually give Willy each week? At a restaurant D. History On what day of the week does Willy die? Math B. Sunday C.
Tuesday D. Divine Seafood D. His shoulder pads Boston B. His pen B. His typewriter C. A picture of his family Lawyer C. On the sales trip that immediately precedes the beginning of the play. Writer Thirty-two years C.
Jill C. Doctor D. His cleats D. Yonkers What does Howard show Willy in his office? What does Biff allow Bernard to carry to the Ebbets Field game? Michelle B. His wire recorder D. Between thirty-four and thirty-six years B. Jenny D. How long has Willy worked for his sales firm? Twenty-five years Police officer B. His football C.
His helmet B. Forty years D. Lobsters B. Steak C. A shoe store C. Veal D. A seed store Answer Key: A deli B. Red snapper To what kind of store does Willy ask Stanley to direct him?
A sporting goods store D. What does Happy order from Stanley at the restaurant? New York: Da Capo Press. Robert A. Contemporary Literary Views. Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology. The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller. Chelsea House Publishing. Arthur Miller: Modern Critical Views. A Life. San Diego: Greenhaven Press. The Theater Essays of Arthur Miller.
Readings on Death of a Salesman. Death of a Salesman.. Cambridge University Press. Penguin USA. Washington Square Press. John Steinbeck Great Expectations. Fyodor Dostoevsky The Crucible. Homer Invisible Man. Charles Dickens Heart of Darkness. Ernest Hemingway Lord of the Flies. Joseph Conrad Huckleberry Finn. George Orwell The Awakening. Salinger Crime and Punishment. Anonymous Brave New World. Kate Chopin Beloved. Scott Fitzgerald The Grapes of Wrath. Erich Maria Remarque Animal Farm. George Orwell Fahrenheit Aldous Huxley The Canterbury Tales.
William Golding Frankenstein. Mark Twain The Iliad. Toni Morrison Beowulf. Ralph Ellison Jane Eyre. Geoffrey Chaucer The Catcher in the Rye. Sophocles The Old Man and the Sea. The Joy Luck Club. Arthur Miller The Scarlet Letter. Amy Tan The Jungle. Dante Alighieri Hamlet. William Shakespeare King Lear. Oedipus Rex. Harper Lee The Odyssey. Homer The Oedipus Trilogy: Harriet Beecher Stowe Wuthering Heights. William Shakespeare The Tempest. William Shakespeare Othello.
Stephen Crane Death of a Salesman. William Shakespeare Macbeth. John Steinbeck Moby Dick. Upton Sinclair Of Mice and Men. William Shakespeare. Ernest Hemingway Pride and Prejudice. Nathaniel Hawthorne A Separate Peace. William Shakespeare Julius Caesar.
John Knowles Things Fall Apart. William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet. Death of a Salesman - SparkNotes Uploaded by inoubliable. Death of a Salesman, SparkNotes: Death of a Salesman is a play written by American playwright Arthur Miller.
Willy Loman returns home exhausted after a cancelled business trip. Worried over Willy's state of mind and recent car accident, his wife Linda suggests that he ask his boss Howard Wagner to allow him to work in his home city so he will not have to travel. Willy complains to Linda that their son, Biff, has yet to make good on his life.
Despite Biff's promise as an athlete in high school, he flunked senior-year math and never went to college.
Biff and his brother Happy, who are temporarily staying with Willy and Linda after Biff's unexpected return from the West, reminisce about their childhood together. They discuss their father's mental degeneration, which they have witnessed in the form of his constant vacillations and talking to himself. Willy walks in, angry that the two boys have never amounted to anything. In an effort to pacify their father, Biff and Happy tell Willy that Biff plans to make a business proposition the next day.
The next day, Willy goes to ask his boss, Howard, for a job in town while Biff goes to make a business proposition, but neither is successful. Willy gets angry and ends up getting fired when the boss tells him he needs a rest and can no longer represent the company.
Biff waits hours to see a former employer who does not remember him and turns him down. Biff impulsively steals a fountain pen. Willy then goes to the office of his neighbor Charley, where he runs into Charley's son Bernard now a successful lawyer ; Bernard tells him that Biff originally wanted to do well in summer school, but something happened in Boston when Biff went to visit Willy that changed his mind.
Happy, Biff, and Willy meet for dinner at a restaurant, but Willy refuses to hear bad news from Biff. Happy tries to get Biff to lie to their father. Biff tries to tell him what happened as Willy gets angry and slips into a flashback of what happened in Boston the day Biff came to see him. Willy had been having an affair with a receptionist on one of his sales trips when Biff unexpectedly arrived at Willy's hotel room. A shocked Biff angrily confronted his father, calling him a liar and a fraud.
From that moment, Biff's views of his father change and set Biff adrift. Biff leaves the restaurant in frustration, followed by Happy and two girls that Happy has picked up.
They leave a confused and upset Willy behind in the restaurant. When they later return home, their mother angrily confronts them for abandoning their father while Willy remains talking to himself outside. Biff goes outside to try to reconcile with Willy. The discussion quickly escalates into another argument, at which point Biff forcefully tries to convey to his father that he is not meant for anything great, insisting that both of them are simply ordinary men meant to lead ordinary lives.
The feud culminates with Biff hugging Willy and crying as he tries to get Willy to let go of the unrealistic expectations that he still has for him and to accept him for who he really is.
He tells his father he loves him. Rather than listen to what Biff actually says, Willy thinks his son has forgiven him and thinks Biff will now pursue a career as a businessman. Willy kills himself, intentionally crashing his car so that Biff can use the life insurance money to start his business. However, at the funeral Biff retains his belief that he does not want to become a businessman. Happy, on the other hand, chooses to follow in his father's footsteps.
Flag for inappropriate content. Related titles. Discuss the Importance of Setting in the Death of a Salesman. Jump to Page. Search inside document. Analysis One of the most interesting aspects of Death of a Salesman is its fluid treatment of time: Goran Grubesic. Willy vehemently denies Biff's claim that they are both common, ordinary people, but ironically, it is the universality of the play that makes it so enduring.
Biff's statement, "I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you" is true after all. Previous Play Summary. Next Character List. Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title.
Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? Sign In. Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller. Scene 1 Act I: Scene 2 Act I: Scene 3 Act I: Scene 4 Act I: Scene 5 Act I: Scene 6 Act I: Scene 7 Act I: Scene 8 Act I: Scene 9 Act I: Scene 10 Act I: Scene 11 Act I: Scene 12 Act II: Scene 1 Act II: Scene 2 Act II: Scene 3 Act II: Scene 4 Act II: Scene 5 Act II: Scene 6 Act II: A nameless woman puts on a scarf and Willy tells her that he gets lonely and worries about his business.
The woman claims that she picked Willy for his sense of humor, and Willy promises to see her the next time he is in Boston. Willy, back in the kitchen with Linda, scolds her for mending her own stocking, claiming that she should not have to do such menial things.
He goes out on the porch, where he tells Bernard to give Biff the answers to the Regents exam. Bernard refuses because it is a State exam. Linda tells Willy that Biff is too rough with the girls, while Bernard says that Biff is driving without a license and will flunk math. Willy, who hears the voice of the woman from the hotel room, screams at Linda that there is nothing wrong with Biff, and asks her if she wants her son to be a worm like Bernard.
Linda, in tears, exits into the living room. The play returns to the present, where Willy tells Happy how he nearly drove into a kid in Yonkers, and wonders why he didn't go to Alaska with his brother Ben , who ended up with diamond mines and came out of the jungle rich at the age of twenty-one. Happy tells his father that he will enable him to retire.
Charley enters, and he and Willy play cards. Charley offers Willy a job, which insults him, and they argue over the ceiling that Willy put up in his living room. Willy tells Charley that Ben died several weeks ago in Africa. Willy hallucinates that Ben enters, carrying a valise and umbrella, and asks about their mother. Charley becomes unnerved by Willy's hallucination and leaves. The play returns to the past, where Willy introduces his sons to Ben, whom he calls a great man.
Ben in turn boasts that his father was a great man and inventor. Willy shows off his sons to Ben, who tells them never to fight fair with a stranger, for they will never get out of the jungle that way. Charley reprimands Willy for letting his sons steal from the nearby construction site, but Willy says that his kids are a couple of "fearless characters. The play returns to the present, where Happy and Biff ask Linda how long Willy has been talking to himself.
Linda claims that this has been going on for years, and she would have told Biff if she had had an address at which she could contact him. She confronts Biff about his animosity toward Willy, but Biff claims that he is trying to change his behavior. He tells Linda that she should dye her hair again, for he doesn't want his mother to look old. Linda asks Biff if he cares about Willy; if he does not, he cannot care about her.
Finally, she tells her sons that Willy has attempted suicide by trying to drive his car off a bridge, and by hooking a tube up to the gas heater in the basement. She says that Willy is not a great man, but is a human being and "attention must be paid" to him. Biff relents and promises not to fight with his father.
He tells his parents that he will go to see Bill Oliver to talk about a sporting goods business he could start with Happy. Willy claims that if Biff had stayed with Oliver he would be on top by now. The next day, Willy sits in the kitchen, feeling rested for the first time in months. Linda claims that Biff has a new, hopeful attitude, and the two dream of buying a little place in the country. Willy says that he will talk to Howard Wagner today and ask to be taken off the road. As soon as Willy leaves, Linda gets a phone call from Biff.
She tells him that the pipe Willy connected to the gas heater is gone. Howard insists that Willy is a road man, but Willy claims that it is time for him to be more settled. He has the right to it because he has been in the firm since Howard was a child, and even named him.
Willy claims that there is no room for personality or friendship in the salesman position anymore, and begs for any sort of salary, giving lower and lower figures. Willy insists that Howard's father made promises to him. Howard leaves, and Willy leans on his desk, turning on the wire recorder. This frightens Willy, who shouts for Howard. Howard returns, exasperated, and fires Willy, telling him that he needs a good, long rest and should rely on his sons instead of working.
Willy hallucinates that Ben enters and Linda, as a young woman, tells Willy that he should stay in New York. Not everybody has to conquer the world and Frank Wagner promised that Willy will someday be a member of the firm.
Willy tells the younger versions of Biff and Happy that it's "who you know" that matters. Bernard arrives, and begs Biff to let him carry his helmet to the big game at Ebbets Field, while Willy becomes insulted that Charley may have forgotten about the game.