Death of a Salesman
A flute plays softly as the light rises on a house surrounded by tall, angular buildings. The sparsely decorated kitchen is visible with a dark drape at the back leading into the living room. To the left and up a little is a second story bedroom with only a brass bed and a straight chair. Above the unseen living room is another bedroom with two beds; a stairway at the left curves up to the room from the kitchen. The empty stage between the house and the audience is the back yard, the scene of Willy's imaginings, as well as the city scenes. Whenever the action of the play is in the present, the characters act as if the imaginary walls are real and ...view middle of the document...
I'm the New England man. I'm vital in New England." Act 1, Part 1, pg. 4 After more discussion of all the reasons why he should be working in New York, Linda suggests again that he go speak with his boss, Howard Wagner. Willy finally agrees to do it, emphasizing that if Wagner's father were still in charge of the company, Willy would have already had a New York job. Wagner doesn't appreciate Willy the way his father did.
Linda offers to make Willy a sandwich to calm him down, but he changes the subject to their sons, Biff and Happy, who are asleep in their shared room. Willy mentions the fight he and Biff had that morning, and Linda gently chides him for criticizing Biff just when he got home. Willy says, "I simply asked him if he was making any money. Is that a criticism?" Act 1, Part 1, pg. 5 They argue over Biff, Linda saying that he just has to find himself and Willy claiming that at thirty-four, he'll never find himself if he keeps working as a farmhand. Willy says he's lazy, but then he says he can't understand how such an attractive and hard-working man as Biff could be lost in America, the greatest country in the world. He gets caught up in remembering how Biff was so popular in high school, but Linda brings him back to the present.
Willy starts to complain about the way their house is surrounded by apartment buildings now. He goes on a tirade about the increase in the population that has caused so many people to move in around them, and his voice wakes Biff and Happy in their room. Linda hushes Willy and sends him downstairs, but before he goes, his confrontational mood subsides and he assures Linda that if Biff wants to return to Texas, he won't stop him. He says that he believes Biff will get it together soon enough. As he's walking out the bedroom door to go downstairs to the kitchen, Linda suggests that over the weekend they all go for a picnic; they can open the car's windshield like Willy did earlier. The flute music plays again, and Willy hears it as he corrects Linda about opening the windshield. He remembers that the Studebaker's windshield doesn't open. He'd spent the entire day thinking that he was driving the Chevy he owned when his sons were in high school. The flute music that only Willy can hear startles him, and Linda plays off the discrepancy. Willy goes downstairs to make a sandwich, mumbling to himself about the old days with the Chevy. The boys are awake in their room over the invisible living room, and they overhear the end of their parents' conversation and Willy's muttering.
Light rises in the boys' upstairs bedroom, and Biff gets out of bed and walks downstage as if standing near the door of their room and listening down the stairs to Willy's mumbling. Hap tells Biff how Willy has been acting strangely lately, mumbling to himself as if he's talking to Biff, and how he's been having trouble driving. Biff plays it off as nothing, and they reminisce about their younger days in that house and then talk...