Questions and Answers for Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman

What does Willy mean when he says "You can't eat the orange, and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit....

As some previous educators have noted, the construction of this metaphor is slightly inconsistent. Willy tells his boss, Howard, that he cannot eat an orange and then throw the peel away, which of...

Latest answer posted January 25, 2021 10:41 am UTC

4 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

How can you describe the relationship between Biff and Willy?

The relationship between Biff and Willy can be described as turbulent, dysfunctional and, actually, dissociative. It is turbulent because the history of angst, secrecy, and disappointments between...

Latest answer posted June 2, 2012 8:33 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

Describe the relationship between Willy and his sons in Death of a Salesman.

Willy Loman has a very difficult relationship with his sons. His relationship with Biff is especially fraught. This is because Biff hasn't achieved his potential. Once upon a time, Biff was a star...

Latest answer posted March 20, 2020 7:51 am UTC

3 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Who dies, and what happens at the burial at the end of the Death of a Salesman?    

Willy Loman, Biff and Happy's delusional, mentally-unstable father, ends up committing suicide by purposely wrecking his car at the end of the play. After consulting with his dead brother's spirit,...

Latest answer posted May 3, 2018 9:23 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Who exactly is "The Woman" in The Death Of A Salesman?

The Woman is one of the characters who appears only in Willy’s mind. Similar to his brother Ben, the Woman is part of a memory or a hallucination that plagues Willy. While Ben appears as if he is...

Latest answer posted March 27, 2020 3:45 am UTC

5 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What instances of stealing appear in Death of a Salesman?

Throughout the play, Biff is portrayed as a kleptomaniac who began stealing various items as a child and was never punished for his actions. In one of Willy's memory scenes, Biff steals a football...

Latest answer posted April 12, 2017 9:53 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Who is Bill Oliver, and what does Biff hope to get from him?

Bill Oliver is one of Biff Loman's former employers. He is introduced to the plot when Biff and his brother, Happy, tell their father that they're considering going into the sporting goods...

Latest answer posted May 23, 2016 3:34 pm UTC

3 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What did Dave Singleman represent for Willy in Death of a Salesman?

Willy brings up his memories of Dave Singleman while he is in Howard's office trying to talk his boss into letting him work in the New York area rather than having to cover all of New England. What...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2014 12:49 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Explain the irony of Linda's last speech in Miller's Death of a Salesman.

The most ironic thing about Linda's speech is when she says that she and the family are now "free." In a financial sense, that's perfectly true. Now that Linda's finally paid off the mortgage, a...

Latest answer posted June 23, 2019 11:14 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What happens to Biff during his visit to Bill Oliver?

Biff is locked in a cycle of deception and dysfunction in his life and his relationships with others, particularly his father. He has come back home after a failed attempt to live away from his...

Latest answer posted March 8, 2016 1:43 am UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Willy states:  "You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away- a man is...

"You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away" is a metaphor and obviously a very poor one. That is exactly what you do with an orange:you eat the orange and throw the peel away. You do the...

Latest answer posted October 26, 2014 8:00 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, what is meant by Willy when he says "the woods are burning"? Also when he says to Charley,...

This is a symbolic expression, by which Willy means that his world is being destroyed. He is financially hard-up, he is on the verge of losing his long-term job as a salesman, and he is nervous and...

Latest answer posted May 11, 2014 12:11 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, why does Biff steal Bill Oliver's pen?

Biff knew that his father would question whether he had actually gone to see Bill Oliver to ask for a loan. His impulse to take the expensive pen may have been motivated consciously or...

Latest answer posted November 14, 2014 1:16 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Why won't Happy go out West with Biff, and why won't Biff stay? Why doesn't either of them get married and settle down?

When Biff suggests that Happy leave home and head out West with him, Happy initially seems interested but declines the offer. Happy seeks gratification from others and would rather become a success...

Latest answer posted October 14, 2019 9:29 am UTC

3 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Willy's philosophy, in Death of a Salesman, is “be liked and you will never want.” How does this statement apply to...

Willy has the illusion that he is well-known and well-liked mainly because he knows many people. As a traveling salesman he has to be friendly, amusing, and entertaining. But all of his...

Latest answer posted May 3, 2014 12:05 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is the importance of the flashback scenes in the play "Death of a Salesman"?

Death of a Salesman contains several scenes that are outside the play’s main plot. The abrupt interruptions to the linear narrative serve to emphasis that Arthur Miller’s work is expressionist more...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2019 5:25 am UTC

4 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

In "Death of a Salesman," who is to blame for Willy Loman's death?

I think we need to approach this question with a multi-faceted answer that acknowledges the role that society and in particular capitalism and the American dream played in Willy's suicide. To...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2010 5:37 am UTC

5 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What are some examples of foreshadowing in Death of a Salesman?

To add to the examples presented in the first answer, I would point to the title itself - Death of a Salesman. We find out that Willy's sales idol Dave Singleman embodies the concept of the almost...

Latest answer posted March 29, 2016 5:00 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Irony In Death Of A Salesman

What seems especially ironic in Death of a Salesman is that Willy Loman is a failure but he keeps advising his sons about how to be a success. He was advising them how to be a success when they...

Latest answer posted November 12, 2014 8:04 am UTC

3 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

in Death of a Salesman, Biff says that Willy "had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong." Was Biff's assessment right?

Biff's assessment of his father's dreams is ultimately validated by the play at large. He argues his father's dreams were wrong because they were shallow, focusing only on a meaningless, empty idea...

Latest answer posted June 5, 2020 1:34 am UTC

4 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, what is the meaning of the quote: "The world is an oyster, but you don't crack it open on a...

This quote refers to Willy Loman's brother, who found his fortune in Africa in the diamond mines. Willy's brother worked hard and made his fortune early, while Willy worked hard and still hasn't...

Latest answer posted November 4, 2012 8:44 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, who is Dave Singleman and what impression did he have on Willy Loman?

Dave Singleman is Willy’s oft-cited aspirational hero of the sales industry. Singleman is representative of the old world of salesmen, one in which personality and connections determines success...

Latest answer posted July 23, 2018 3:19 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is the symbolic significance of the main character's name in Death of a Salesman?

The first thing you need to analyze to find symbolic meaning in Willy Loman’s name is his last name. Broken down, it is “low man.” In the play, Willy is an unsuccessful traveling salesman who is...

Latest answer posted December 15, 2015 7:21 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

What are important quotes that represent Willy's and Biff's relationship? 

The following quotation is important because it shows how and why the relationship between Willy and Biff turned sour: BIFF: You fake! You phony little fake! You fake! (Overcome, he turns quickly...

Latest answer posted June 19, 2020 8:31 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Identify what does Charley meant when he says the following to Willy:   "Who liked J.P.Morgan? Was he impressive ? In...

This particular exchange between Charley and Willy reflects some of their fundamental differences between how reality is constructed and how people are valued. For Willy, J.P. Morgan is valued...

Latest answer posted December 25, 2012 6:46 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

What does Willy's reaction to Biff's theft of the football tell us about Willy? He says the boys look like...

In Willy's hallucination/memory, Biff shows off the football he stole from the locker room and Willy initially tells him to return it. Willy then praises Biff's actions by telling his son that the...

Latest answer posted July 13, 2018 10:54 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Why does Biff steal things?

Biff steals things because he is a kleptomaniac. He essentially cannot help himself when he steals Bill Oliver's fountain pen and runs out of the room. Willy has raised Biff to be a selfish,...

Latest answer posted December 20, 2016 10:05 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

How is the flute symbolic in Death of a Salesman?

As one of the first sounds that the audience perceives, the flute plays faintly in the opening of Act of Death of a Salesman. A melody is heard, played upon the flute. It is small and fine,...

Latest answer posted July 19, 2012 1:51 am UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

Compare and contrast Biff and Happy in Death of a Salesman.

Biff Loman always had considerable potential to go on and make something of this life once he left school. A high school football star with a head for figures, the world was very much his oyster....

Latest answer posted January 10, 2020 6:53 am UTC

4 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What did Willy Loman think was necessary for success in Death of a Salesman? I am writing an essay on Willy Loman’s...

Willy says over and over that the secret to his "success" is that he is "well liked." This term is a cover, however, a placeholder for the truth Willy cannot explain about his life -- that the...

Latest answer posted March 19, 2017 12:40 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is the symbolic meaning of the jungle?

The jungle represents the modern, cut-throat world of business competition in which some, like Ben, might triumph while others, like Willy, go under. It is a jungle in the sense that people are...

Latest answer posted May 26, 2015 1:52 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is the nature of Willy and Linda’s relationship in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.  What does Linda...

In Death of a Salesman, Willy and Linda Loman have a complex relationship in which Linda serves largely as an enabler to Willy’s dreams and fantasies. A devoted and supporting wife – within...

Latest answer posted December 18, 2013 11:32 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

When Linda says "Life is a casting off" what does she mean? What type of rhetorical device is this in Death of a...

In Death of a Salesman the phrase "Casting off" is used during a conversation where Linda and Willy are discussing their sons, who have come back to live with them. WILLY: Figure it out. Work a...

Latest answer posted July 21, 2015 7:02 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, Happy says several times, "I'm losing weight, you notice, Pop?" Which American myth is he...

Happy subscribes to his father's belief that appearance and personality are the essential aspects necessary to have success in the business world. As a delusional, conflicted salesman, Willy Loman...

Latest answer posted June 7, 2020 8:49 pm UTC

5 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is Linda's reaction to Willy's complaints about himself? What reason does Willy give that he can't work in New...

What is Linda's reaction to Willy's complaints about himself? In Act 1, Willy is criticizing himself and his abilities. He says people laugh at him, overlook him, don't take him seriously, and...

Latest answer posted February 7, 2018 7:36 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

Can somebody describe the nature of Linda Loman's relationship with her sons in Death of a Salesman?

In "Death of a Salesman," Linda Loman seems to have more forgiving and understanding view of her sons, Biff and Happy, than does Willy. Veering between open expressions of disappointment and...

Latest answer posted June 5, 2013 8:50 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, how does Willy feel about Charley and Bernard?

Willy is deeply jealous of Charlie, his next-door neighbor. Charlie is everything that Willy is not: Where Willy is a braggart, Charlie is a modest man of few words; Where Willy is a dreamer,...

Latest answer posted February 8, 2011 1:58 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

What are the literary techniques used in Death of a Salesman besides the flashbacks? 

The first technique is one called "mimesis" or imitation. The basic form of drama is imitative in that actors on stage pretend to be imaginary characters, rather than standing up in propria persona...

Latest answer posted February 1, 2018 2:40 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is the central conflict in "Death of a Salesman"?

There are five principal characters in Death of a Salesman. They are Willy, Linda, Biff, Happy, and Charley. The only big conflict between any two of these characters is between Willy and Biff, and...

Latest answer posted November 13, 2014 11:42 pm UTC

3 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What does Happy's "brilliant" business plan for the Loman Brothers--success as sporting goods salesmen--tell us about...

After Biff tells his father that he has a meeting early in the morning with Bill Oliver, Happy intervenes and says that he has a wonderful idea. Happy grabs Biff and tells him that they will go...

Latest answer posted May 5, 2018 5:27 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is wrong with the idea when Ben says, "Never fight fair with a stranger. You'll never get out of the jungle that...

In this scene, Willy has an imaginary encounter with his dead brother Ben. No matter how real the details of Ben's story, Ben represents to Willy the material success that he longs for but that has...

Latest answer posted May 30, 2016 2:26 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What did Willy's family gain by his death?

Arthur Miller's famous play Death of a Salesman deals with the fall of Willy Loman, a traveling salesman, who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife Linda. He also has two grown sons, Happy...

Latest answer posted January 14, 2012 1:51 am UTC

1 educator answer

Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, how do Charley and Ben's attitudes differ in regard to the Loman boys' stealing? Who is...

Ben, Willy Loman's brother, does not think too differently from Willy when it comes to the way "boys" should behave. The reason why I put the noun "boys" in quotation marks has to do with an...

Latest answer posted March 9, 2020 3:48 pm UTC

5 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

In Act Two, how does Biff's realization that his life is a lie underline the theme of the play?

One of the themes of Death of a Salesman is clarified by Biff in the Requiem. Based on his new understanding of life, his father, and himself that he has gained over the course of the play, Biff...

Latest answer posted May 17, 2016 4:45 am UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is the relationship between Charley and Willy in Death of a Salesman?

Charley and Willy are next door neighbors and antagonists, but at the same time, they are friends or, more precisely, frenemies. They play cards together, and Willy is dependent on Charley for a...

Latest answer posted October 10, 2020 12:14 pm UTC

5 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Why did Willy get demoted from his job?

Willy is not demoted; he is fired. It is clear from the start of the scene with Howard, that Howard is not at all interested in the exhausted and distraught man in his office. Indeed, he is more...

Latest answer posted February 8, 2010 2:39 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

For Death of a Salesman, identify three differences between the print version and the film version.

A filmed version of Death of a Salesman, directed by Volker Schlöndorff, was televised in 1985 and was later released in theaters. Dustin Hoffman repeated the role of Willy Loman that he had played...

Latest answer posted April 13, 2020 7:29 pm UTC

3 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What is the most important scene in Death of a Salesman? Why?

One of the most influential scenes is act 2, scene 3, which is where Willy goes to Charley's office and ends up talking to Bernard, Charley's son. This scene is important because this marks the...

Latest answer posted June 20, 2020 7:53 pm UTC

3 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

Why is the play called "Death of a Salesman"?

On the literal level, it is, indeed, about the death of the salesman, Willy Loman. However, more importantly, it is a tragedy concerning the death of the American Dream that Willy Loman represents....

Latest answer posted May 20, 2008 11:55 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Death of a Salesman

What does "temporary" mean, and how does it apply to Willy? He says to Ben, "Dad left when I was such a baby ... and...

Temporary means not permanent. This line provides insight into Willy Loman's character. It shows that the early abandonment he experienced when his father deserted the family has influenced his...

Latest answer posted March 18, 2017 5:58 pm UTC

2 educator answers

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