Willy and his family live in New York City, and none of them find it very congenial. Willy in particular chafes at the restrictions of city life, the endless crowds and buildings, particularly the apartments that over the years have been constructed all around their house.
The way they boxed us in here. Bricks and windows, windows and bricks. (Act I)
Willy here expresses his claustrophobic sense at city life, the feeling of being ‘boxed in’, literally trapped. The repetition of ‘bricks and windows, windows and bricks’ also effectively conveys the sense of monotony in the city. Willy dreams of escaping it all, of retiring to a place in the country, although this dream is never realised.
Biff also expresses his frustration at New York life. He says that ‘we don’t belong in this nuthouse of a city’(Act I). He is the sporty, muscular type who enjoys doing things outdoors instead of being cramped in offices or apartments. Happy feels much the same way.
Willy feels that there are too many people in the city, too much competition. In this play New York represents the urban jungle, the fast pace of modern life which leaves the dreaming, dithering Lomans behind.