In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, what quotes show Willy's fear of abandonment?

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In Death of a Salesman, Willy expresses fears of professional, familial, and social abandonment.

In act 1, he laments the loss of his past success as a salesman. Even worse, he cannot stand that the younger generation does not even know the history of his early feats in business....

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In Death of a Salesman, Willy expresses fears of professional, familial, and social abandonment.

In act 1, he laments the loss of his past success as a salesman. Even worse, he cannot stand that the younger generation does not even know the history of his early feats in business. His old boss, Wagner, appreciated Willy’s skill, but Wagner’s own son does not acknowledge it. When Linda tells Willy that he should be given the New York sales territory, Willy replies, “If old man Wagner was alive I’da been in charge of New York now! That man was a prince, he was a masterful man. But that boy of his, that Howard, he don’t appreciate.”

During a flashback, Willy tells Biff that his popularity will get him farther in life than Bernard’s high grades. To illustrate, he regales how clients welcomed him because he was well liked:“I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. ‘Willy Loman is here!’” Yet soon afterwards, Willy admits to Linda, “[people] don’t seem to take to me” and “I don’t know the reason for it, but they just pass me by. I’m not noticed.” To Willy, connection and renown as a salesman are very important to his professional success; the worst thing to a travelling salesman is anonymity and lack of recognition by customers.

Willy also fears abandonment by his family. Although he is the person who cheated on Linda (who remained faithful to him), he cites loneliness as an excuse to commit dalliances while travelling on business trips. He confides to Linda,

I get so lonely—especially when business is bad and there’s nobody to talk to. I get the feeling that I’ll never sell anything again, that I won’t make a living for you, or a business, a business for the boys.

This quote illustrates multiple fears of abandonment by and loss of his selling prowess, his buyers, and his ability to support his family, his wife, and his sons.

The loss of his older brother Ben is another source of his fear of abandonment. During his imagined encounter with Ben, Willy describes a memory of when he was a young boy: “I remember I was sitting under the wagon in—was it Nebraska?” Ben corrects Willy and notes that they were in South Dakota. Ben gave little Willy a handful of flowers, but Willy recalls only, “I remember you walking away down some open road.” Repeatedly, Willy ponders why he did not follow Ben to Alaska or anywhere to find his fortune. Even though Ben supposedly asked Willy to accompany him on ventures (or did Willy only image this?), Willy feels left behind by his older brother.

Willy’s fear of abandonment reflects the pain of the loss of respect by others, whether in the worlds of sales, sports, or society in general. In act 2, during in a flashback, he gloats to Charley about his son Biff over Charley’s son Bernard. When Charley is not impressed by Biff’s athletic victory, Willy is angry that he does not grant Willy the admiration he thinks he deserves. Willy shouts, “What are you walking away for? Don’t walk away!” Ironically, this flashback occurs right before the play’s action returns to the present and Willy witnesses how successful Bernard is (in contrast to Biff) before asking Charley for a loan.

Finally, Willy reminisces to Howard about another old salesman whose funeral was attended by “hundreds of salesmen and buyers.” Ironically, this salesman was named David Singleton, but he certainly was not abandoned or left alone. Willy tells Howard that years ago in business,

There was respect, and comradeship, and gratitude in it. Today, it’s all cut and dried, and there’s no chance for bringing friendship to bear—or personality. You see what I mean? They don’t know me anymore.

He then admonishes Howard, “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away—a man is not a piece of fruit!”

Yet unlike David Singleton’s funeral, Willy’s funeral is attended by only a few people: Linda, Biff, Happy, and Charley. He has been abandoned by society. To Willy, being ignored is the worst fate, and, as Linda tells her sons, “Attention must be paid.”

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Most of Willy's fear of abandonment comes through in the scenes where he has imaginary conversations with his brother, Ben, who is a father figure but who also abandoned him when he was young. In Act I, Willy says, "Ben! I've been waiting for you so long! What's the answer? How did you do it?" Willy repeatedly tries to get from Ben what he didn't get from his father. Willy states, "I remember you walking away down some open road." Willy doesn't want Ben to leave again. He says, "Can't you stay a few days? You're just what I need, Ben, because... Dad left when I was such a baby and I never had a chance to talk to him and I still feel—kind of temporary about myself." 

Willy also seems to fear his sons will abandon him, telling Linda, "Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there's nobody to live in it." The statement is ironic, however, since the audience finds out later that Willy was the one who threw Biff out of the house.

In Act II, Willy tells Howard about the 84-year-old salesman who made a living without ever leaving his room—someone who was "loved and helped by so many different people." This is the opposite of abandonment—garnering loyalty to the very end. This is Willy's dream and why he decided to keep being a salesman. Still, Willy complains about his customers, saying, "They don't know me anymore." Sadly, Howard ends the conversation by abandoning Willy, telling him, "I don't want you to represent us." Willy tells Charley later, "I'm strapped, I'm strapped. I don't know what to do. I was just fired." He then hints to Charley about his plans to commit suicide.

In his confrontation with Biff near the end of the play, Willy becomes very angry when Biff says he's leaving. He shouts, "May you rot in hell if you leave this house!"

Willy's fear of abandonment goes back to when his father and older brother abandoned him as a child. These experiences drive Willy to do and say things that have negative consequences for him.

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