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Willy goes to Howard's office hoping for a non-traveling sales job (per the request of his wife), but Howard tells him that no job is available. He is almost ignoring Willy, and even refers to this middle-aged man as a "kid," illustrating that he does not respect him. Willy keeps lowering his salary request and tells Howard of Dave Singleman because he was a salesman that never left his hotel room. He is seen as very good at his job and well-respected because many people attended his funeral. The story does nothing to help Willy's plight because Howard essentially fires Willy at the end of the conversation. That's what he means when he says to drop of the materials. Willy pleads with Howard, but he does not change his mind and Willy leaves feeling like a failure.
AThe answer by allyson (above) is good, but it should be noted more that Dave Singleton was respected. It was more than a matter of money; people came from all over to see him; they came from the entire Northeast for his funeral. This, of course, foreshadows (in a negative way) Willy's "death of a salesman."
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