Use it to write a character study of Linda. Your answer should explain how this excerpt informs us about Linda and comment on her functional significance in the play.
Read the following excerpt from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. WILLY, with casual irritation: I said nothing happened. Didn't you hear me?
LINDA: Don't you feel well?
WILLY: I'm tired to death. The flute has faded away. He sits on the bed beside her, a little numb. I couldn't make it. I just couldn't make it, Linda.
LINDA, very carefully, delicately: Where were you all day? You look terrible.
WILLY: I got as far as a little above Yonkers. I stopped for a cup of coffee. Maybe it was the coffee.
WILLY, after a pause: I suddenly couldn't drive any more. The car kept going off onto the shoulder, y'know?
LINDA, helpfully: Oh. Maybe it was the steering again. I don't think Angelo knows the Studebaker.
WILLY: No, it's me, it's me. Suddenly I realize I'm goin' sixty miles an hour and I don't remember the last five minutes. I'm — I can't seem to — keep my mind to it.
LINDA: Maybe it's your glasses. You never went for your new glasses.
WILLY: No, I see everything. I came back ten miles an hour. It took me nearly four hours from Yonkers.
LINDA, resigned: Well, you'll just have to take a rest, Willy, you can't continue this way.
WILLY: I just got back from Florida.
LINDA: But you didn't rest your mind. Your mind is overactive, and the mind is what counts.
Linda is Willy's 'foundation and support'. She works hard to bolster his ego and to encourage him to keep going. She cares greatly for her husband and is sensitive to his diminishing capabilities. She tries to avoid his temper and passionate outbursts, and is used to dealing 'delicately' with the question of his constant failure.
Linda tries to be 'helpful' in diverting the blame for Willy's breakdown to material objects - 'maybe it was the steering again', 'maybe its your glasses'. The irony of this technique is that it serves to remind Willy that he needs to provide money to repair or replace these material possessions, which is the root cause of his stress.
She has obviously tried many times to reassure Willy in his job, but by the discussion in the exreact she is 'resigned' to the fact that Willy is what is worn out and in need of repair. She understands that the problems Willy has are psychological, and can see that it is mental rest which he requires.
Linda sees no shame or embarrassment in Willy's condition: she is just desparate to make him happy as he once was.