What are some questions that would be left unanswered if there was no requiem in Death of a Salesman? In other words, why is there a requiem? 

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The requiem in Death of a Salesman occurs after the funeral/burial of Willy Loman. It is characterized by the manner in which Willy's dream is analyzed from the perspective of those who had to live with him through it, namely, Linda, Biff, Happy, and Charley.

Willy's dream is isolated in this part of the play, and exposed for what it is. Biff calls it the "wrong" dream,

He had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong

while Charley defends it exclaiming that dreaming is, sometimes, all that is left to do.

He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine… A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.

The basic premise of the requiem is to pay one last respect to Willy's aspirations, despite of all the character flaws that the audience witnesses. Willy's behavior, his mistakes, and his choices may have not been the best for his own sake. However, Charley's words are like a eulogy that shows respect and returns the dignity back to Willy's life. Even the way in which Charley presents these words is indicative of their seriousness when he says

“Nobody dast blame this man”

Therefore, the requiem does not answer any questions because it is not meant to serve as "the end" of the play. Instead, it is an added and separate component where Willy's life is viewed after his uphill battle in the quest of the American Dream has ended. Now that there is no more to hide, to seek, or to want for, Willy Loman can finally be seen as just another man wanting to do good for himself. Charley's words are quite emotional, making the farewell to Willy more respectful, and complete while Linda confirms that they all are now free because of Willy's sacrifice.


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