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Study questions for Death of a Salesman
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Use these questions to check the accuracy of your reading of the play.
- The unrealistic setting of the play causes some confusion for some readers. Pay particular attention to the importance of details of the setting. Note the importance of the following: a.) flute music b.) apartment houses c.) kitchen d.) silver trophy
- Describe Willy’s condition.
- How does Willy see himself?
- Provide evidence of Willy’s contradictions.
- Provide evidence that Willy feels entrapped.
- What is Linda’s relationship to Willy?
- How does Linda treat Willy?
- Contrast their sons Biff and Happy.
- What does Biff think is Willy’s problem?
- What are Biff and Happy’s frustrations?
- Provide evidence of Biff’s sense of guilt.
- Background or exposition is given in the first flashback. Note the importance of each: a.) Polishing the car b.) Stockings c.) Punching bag d.) Theft of football e.) Emphasis on being “well-liked”, f.) Willy’s exaggerations – What are they? Why does he exaggerate” g.) Willy’s flashbacks — Of what do they consist? h.) Significance of “walrus” i.) Significance of “The Woman” j.) Biff’s wrongdoing
- What is Willy’s saving lie?
- What does Ben represent?
- Second flashback a.) Ben’s formula for success b.) Willy’s mental confusion
- What did Willy’s father do for a living? What is the significance of this fact?
- How was Willy a failure in bringing up his sons?
- What is the significance of “I feel kind of temporary about myself”?
- What slurs at Charley does Willy make?
- What is the significance of “A man is not a bird”?
- What is Willy’s condition according to Linda?
- Offer some evidence of Willy’s thoughts of suicide.
- Why does Biff not fit into the business world?
- What plans are being made?
- What are Happy’s suggestions?
- What are Willy’s instructions to Biff?
- What are Biff’s plans for tomorrow?
- What is Willy’s unreal view of Biff?
- What does Biff discover near the heater?
- How have times changed in Act II?
- What is the significance of things breaking down?
- What are the details of the scene between Howard and Willy?
- What does Dave Singleton mean to Willy?
- What is Willy’s view on how to get on?
- What has become of Bernard?
- Describe the relationship between Charley and Willy.
- What can’t Willy work for Charley?
- What happened in Oliver’s office?
- What does Biff steal?
- Why does Willy refuse to hear what Biff has to say?
- In the third flashback, to what does Willy attribute Biff’s not getting settled?
- How does the flashback of the scene involving the Woman, Willy, and Biff explain the animosity between Willy and Biff?
- What does Linda think of Happy’s and Biff’s leaving Willy at the restaurant?
- What is the significance of Willy’s planting seeds?
- What are the ideas in Biff’s self-recognition?
- What is Charley’s explanation of Willy?
- What is the significance of Linda’s final words: “We’re free...”?
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Study questions for the play