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In "Death of a Salesman," how does Willy's suicide serve as a resolution to the plot?

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spidawn | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 11, 2010 at 11:09 AM via web

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In "Death of a Salesman," how does Willy's suicide serve as a resolution to the plot?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 14, 2010 at 8:07 PM (Answer #1)

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The dynamic of the play is driven by the emotional and psychological disintegration of Willy Loman. As the story develops, Loman's interior life becomes more chaotic and his behavior becomes more bizarre as he breaks apart under stress. His career as a salesman is over. He has little to show for a lifetime of hard work. He cannot support himself and his wife Linda. His two sons are failures in every sense of the word, men of no character or accomplishment.

The idea that Loman is suicidal is introduced into the plot specifically when Linda Loman discovers by accident that her husband is making plans to kill himself. Overwhelmed with pain and fear, she shares this news with her sons. Her intervention, however, and her appeal to her sons for help do not even slow this plot development. Events happen rapidly that push Loman finally to commit suicide.

The final irony of Loman's life is that through the life insurance Linda Loman collects, he is worth more financially to his family by dying rather than by living. Willy Loman's suicide at the conclusion of the play resolves the plot. It is far too late for him or his sons to be saved from the lives they have created and the flawed characters they have become. Linda, the loving wife and mother, is left amid the wreckage.

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