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Please explain the following from Miller's Death of a Salesman:"You can't eat the...

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ahinds88 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 19, 2011 at 9:56 AM via web

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Please explain the following from Miller's Death of a Salesman:

"You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away. A man is not a piece of fruit."

"After all the highways, and the trains,and the years, you end upworth more dead than alive."

"He had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong."

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted March 20, 2011 at 8:39 AM (Answer #1)

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I'll take a couple:

"you can't eat the orange and throw the peel away. A man is not a piece of fruit.-WILLY"

This is one of the most telling quotes in the play.  Willy lives in the past, where relationships meant something in the workplace.  In the modern "people eat people" (I never understood why dogs get blammed for our behaviors) world, you can take the best from someone (the fruit), and throw away what remains when it is no longer of any use to you.  Willy wants another world, in fact he "lives" in that other world.

"after all the highways, and the trains,and the years, you end upworth more dead than alive."-WILLY

Willy wants to leave something for his sons; he thinks they'll be able to get ahead if they have some "seed" money, so he comes to think that if they can collect on his insurance policy after he kills himself, he will be "worth" more to them than he is alive.  This is a sad commentary for two reasons.  No one is worth more dead than alive, and they probably won't be able to collect on the insurance policy anyway since insurance policies usually don't cover suicides (thus the reason for the comments on some of Willie's earlier "accidents.")

"he had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong."-BIFF

This could be.  Willy was never a great salesman; he just managed to scratch out a living.  We know that Willy was great with his hands and that he enjoyed building things and growing things.  Might he have been happier working in these fields?  Who knows.  If we knew at the end of our lives what we know earlier, all decisions would be easier.

 

Good luck with the rest of your questions.

 



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