What is the turning point in Willy's life in "Death of a Salesman"?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For the majority of the play, Willy Loman struggles to accept reality and take responsibility for not instilling values in his children. It is suggested that Willy's several car accidents were actually suicide attempts and Linda even finds a rubber hose in the basement presumably to attach to the water heater's gas pipe, which indicates that he has been contemplating suicide by inhaling gas. When Biff attempts to please his father by asking his old boss for a loan so that he can start a business with his brother, Willy is enthused and plans on approaching his boss about working in the city instead of constantly traveling on the road to make sales. One could argue that the turning point in Willy's life is when he meets with his boss and ends up losing his job. Being fired devastates Willy, who also learns that the "Florida idea" does not work out. Willy's failure, coupled with his sons' lack of success, sends him into a downward spiral in which he begins to hallucinate and eventually decides to commit suicide.

lequam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The turning point in Willy's life in Death of a Salesman is after he loses his job with Howard, refuses the job offer from Charley and is confronted by Biff about the misconceptions that have dominated their lives since Happy and Biff's childhood.  After the confrontation with Biff in the restaurant and the memory of Biff's stumbling upon his secret affair with The Woman, Willy pretty much gives up on life and begins to believe that the only way he will ever be able to help Biff make a life for himself is if Willy can contrive his own death to look like an accident, leaving the life insurance money for his family. 

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Death of a Salesman

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