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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller
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The following statement is false. Why? The key word here is “present.” This is not a trick question. I am asking about the present time that takes place in Death of a Salesman, not the past, and the statement below is false but close to being true. "The present time action in Death of a Salesman takes place in four locations: the Loman house and yard, Charlie’s office, Howard’s office, Willy’s gravesite."

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The statement is almost true but it contains one error. The action in Death of a Salesman seems to move between the present and several different points in the past.

The “present” refers to the last day of Willy Loman’s life and just after his death. Much of the action in the present takes place in the Lomans’ house, especially the kitchen, the parents’ bedroom, and the sons’ bedroom. During act 2, Willy goes out into the yard at night to plant seeds for a garden. During act 1, Willy visits first Charley and then Howard in their respective offices. At the end of act 2 and in the Requiem, the action takes place at Willy’s grave.

The statement is incorrect in that it mentions four locations but there are five: In act 2, Happy and Biff take Willy out to dinner. The action takes place in a restaurant. It begins with Happy and a waiter, Stanley. Next Biff arrives, and the brothers meet a young woman. After Willy arrives, she returns with a friend, and his sons leave with the women, leaving their father alone.

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