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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller
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How does the ending of the play illustrate Willy's fear of being abandonment being actualized. How does the abandonment by his sons lead to his ideas of suicide. Please provide quotes that support this abandonment.

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Late in act 2 of Miller's Death of a Salesman, Happy and Biff, the sons of protagonist Willy Loman, are waiting for him to arrive at a restaurant where they are to meet for dinner. Before he arrives, Happy sets up a later assignation with an attractive prostitute, who promises to bring a "friend" for Biff. But his brother his no interest and is deeply despondent after a failed attempt to get a job with a former employer that day. He knows his failure will be a blow to his already dejected father.

Willy arrives, having just been fired. The loss has the effect of further loosening his demonstrably tenuous grip on reality. As he enters the restaurant, his mind is unpredictably switching between reality and fantasy, past and present. When he reveals his termination to his sons, Biff is even more upset. Yet, he is forced to reveal to his now desperate father his own bad news.

Willy lashes out at Biff, irrationally dredging up a failed high school math test. That memory, in flashback, is augmented by the reality of Biff's recent theft of his potential employer's pen. Both of these events torment the old man. In the midst of this, Happy begins chatting up the two prostitutes, who have just arrived. Willy, half in a dream and mumbling to himself, is directed to the bathroom by Biff.

Happy suggests to Biff that he and the women leave the restaurant. Anguished, Biff begs his brother to do something for Willy. He is wondering whether Happy cares about him at all. He pulls out the piece of hose with which they both know Willy contemplates killing himself, and asks whether he cares whether Willy commits suicide. Happy callously confirms his awareness and implied indifference.

BIFF: Don't you understand what I'm talking about? He's going to kill himself, don't you know that?
HAPPY: Don't I know it! Me!
On the verge of tears, Biff runs out of the restaurant. When one of the prostitutes wonders why Biff ran off, Happy replies:
HAPPY: Come on, girls. We'll catch up to him.

With these words they leave the restaurant, abandoning Willy.

Meanwhile, Willy's mind is immersed in the painful memory of the teenaged Biff's accidental discovery of him with a prostitute in a Boston hotel. The incident caused Biff to lose faith in his father, and apparently, his serious ambition for a career.

In this sequence, we see Willy's fear of abandonment become reality when he's abandoned by his sons. There is no evidence that this abandonment is the main factor in Willy's suicide, although it may have contributed to it. It's clear that suicidal thoughts have been a part of his life for some time before the play begins.

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