Death of a Salesman
He has a wife and two sons. He talks to himself a lot. He is almost retired, but he has not been very successful. He seems short-tempered and out of his mind a little. 2. Identify Linda. Linda is Willy’s wife. She is a wonderful wife and mother. She is always upbeat, supportive and positive. We only know Linda in contrast to Willy. 3. What happened to Willy after he got a little above Yonkers? Willy wasn’t paying attention while he was driving and almost hit a kid.
What is Linda’s reaction to Willy’s complaints about himself? Linda is patient and encouraging. She tries to find an excuse for him. She cares about Willy and her boys’ well-being. 5. What reason does Willy give that he can’t work in New York? He’s familiar with New England and they don’t need him in New York. 6. Identify Biff and Happy.
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They are Willy’s sons. Biff is two years older than Happy. Biff has been unsuccessful. He wants to be successful, but he likes working outside on the farm. Biff is well-built but now lacks confidence. Happy is tall, strong and oozes sexuality.
He is positive but hides his sense of loss behind his confidence. Happy seems to like to hide his problems. 7. In the first scene with Linda, Willy contradicted himself twice. About what did he contradict himself? “Biff is lazy”… “one thing about Biff, he’s not lazy. ” “Windows don’t open on the new car. ” But Willy had just opened it that day. 7. What seems to be the problem between Biff and Willy? Willy has many ideas for how Biff should live his life. Willy thinks Biff is wasting his opportunities. 9. Why doesn’t Happy go west with Biff? He’s actually content with where he is.
He’s not honest with his own ideals. 10. What does Biff want from Bill Oliver? Borrow money to build his own ranch. 11. Why did Biff stop working for Bill Oliver? Bill Oliver suspected Biff stole a carton of basketballs. 12. Happy says, “I don’t know what to do about him [Willy], it’s getting embarrassing. ” To what is he referring, and what does the fact that Happy thinks this way tell you about his character? Willy keeps talking to himself. Happy cares more about his own feelings than the well-being of his father. Happy is not a caring son. 13. Why does Willy talk so much about the car?
Willy must use a car a lot to do his job. A car is one symbol of success. When Biff was younger he often ‘simonized’ (waxed) the car. 14. Where did Biff get the football? What does Willy say about that? He took it from the locker room. At first he says he should return it, but then he says the coach will congratulate you on your initiative. 15. What does Willy admit to Linda about his business? What is her reaction? Willy’s business is not going well. Linda encourages him that next week might be better. 16. Who is The Woman? A person who worked with Willy, and who he had an ongoing affair with. 17.
What does Willy mean, “I’ll make it up to you, Linda, I’ll –“? What does Linda think he means? He wants to repay Linda for his infidelity. She thinks he wants to earn more money for her. 18. What does Willy want young Bernard to do for Biff? He wants Bernard to give Biff the answers on the Regent’s exam (state exam, gaokao) 19. What does Willy tell Happy about Ben when Happy asks how Ben “did it”? He just walked into the jungle at 17 and came out at 21 rich. 20. Who is Ben? Willy’s older brother and successful brother. 21. Who is Charley? Willy’s friend and neighbor. He’s hardworking and has been more successful than Willy.
Willy doesn’t seem to respect Charlie. Bernard is Charlie’s son. 22. Charley says, “To hell with it. When a deposit bottle is broken, you don’t get your nickel back. ” What does he mean? Don’t get so upset over small things. You need to move on. 23. Charley and Willy are playing cards. Why does Charley leave? Willy is acting irrationally and he’s insulting Charlie. 24. What did Willy’s father do for a living? How is that different from what Willy does? He made and sold flutes. Willy only sells things. 25. Why does Charley tell Willy “the jails are full of fearless characters”?
Being fearless is not always good. Many ‘fearless’ people do bad things and get caught for them. 39 26. Linda says, “Attention, attention must be paid to such a person. ” Explain. Willy has worked very hard his whole life. He has not been successful but he’s still a man and still deserves respect. Willy is very tired and getting old. 27. Linda tells the boys that Willy won’t be all right. When the boys ask why he won’t, what is her reply? Willy has been trying to kill himself. 28. What advice does Willy give Biff on the evening before he goes to see Bill Oliver?
How does Willy contradict himself again? – Wear a suit, don’t crack any jokes, speak little. – Be serious, quiet, sturdy. – Ask for a larger amount of money. Contradictions: – Walk in with a big laugh. Tell some good stories. Personality always wins. 29. How much time passes in the first act? How much time are we given information about? Several hours in one evening. All together we see about 13 years of their life. Biff was in grade 12. Act Two 1. Where did Biff go early that morning? 2. What did Willy resolve to talk about with Howard? 3. What is the result of Willy’s conversation with Howard? 4.
“You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man isn’t a piece of fruit! ” Explain why Willy said that. 5. “This is no time for false pride, Willy. . . . You’ve got two great boys, haven’t you? ” What is sadly ironic about this statement? 6. Why didn’t Willy go with Ben years ago when Ben offered him a job? 7. Ben says. “What are you building? Lay your hands on it. Where is it? ” What is the point of this line? 8. Where does Willy go after his conversation with Howard? 9. What does Willy ask Bernard? 10. What was Bernard’s reply? 11. Why can’t Willy work for Charley? 12. Biff says, “. . .
I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been. ” What does he mean? 13. What was the result of Biff’s meeting with Bill Oliver? 14. What does Happy want Biff to tell Willy? 15. Willy says, “. . . the woods are burning, boys. Can’t you understand? There’s a big blaze going on all around. ” What does that mean? 16. What does Willy do while Biff is trying to explain the facts of his meeting with Bill Oliver? 17. What did Biff take from Bill Oliver? 18. Identify Miss Forsythe and Letta. 19. Where does Willy go? 20. What is Biff’s opinion of his father now, when he tells it to Miss Forsythe?21. Why can’t Biff help Willy? 22. Happy denies that Willy is his father. Why? 23. What happened in Boston? What do we finally find out is the problem, the secret between Willy and Biff? 24. Why did Biff go to Boston in the first place? 25. Where does Willy go after he realizes that the boys have left him at the restaurant? 26. Why does Linda knock the flowers to the floor? 27. 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 he mean? 28. Why does Willy decide to kill himself? 29. What does Biff want to tell Willy before he is ready to go? 30.
Biff says, “Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens? ” What is the significance of this line? 31. What is Willy’s response to Biff’s whole scene when Biff ends up crying? 32. Ben says, “The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy. ” Explain. 33. What does Willy do? 34. Why is the car an appropriate device? Requiem 35. Biff says, “He had all the wrong dreams. All, all wrong. ” Explain. 36. Based on the events of the play and our knowledge of the characters, what will probably become of Biff and Happy? 37. Linda says, “We’re free and clear. ” What is the double meaning here?