Arthur Miller Questions and Answers

Arthur Miller book cover
Start Your Free Trial

At one point in Act 1 of Death of a Salesman, Happy offers to finance Willy's retirement. Willy scorns Happy's offer. Why?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,377 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In act 1, Willy hallucinates about Biff's childhood and Happy comes downstairs after he hears Willy talking to himself. Willy suddenly becomes aware of Happy's presence and begins to lament about not following his brother to Alaska. In an attempt to cheer his father up, Happy tells Willy, "Pop, I told you I’m gonna retire you for life" (Miller, 28). In a rare moment of self-awareness, Willy demonstrates his grasp of reality by telling Happy,

"You’ll retire me for life on seventy goddam dollars a week? And your women and your car and your apartment, and you’ll retire me for life!" (Miller, 28).

While Willy is depicted as a delusional, hopeful man with unrealistic expectations for his children, he reveals that he is aware that Happy is a failure by responding to Happy's claim that he will retire him for life. Willy's brief moment of self-awareness illustrates that he suppresses his negative feelings regarding the harsh reality of his situation in favor of entertaining delusional...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 685 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

M.P. Ossa, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer, ESL/TEFL Instructor

bookM.A. from Chapman University


calendarEducator since 2008

write5,713 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Brayan Effertz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write892 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial