In the opening scene of the play, Keller and Frank greet one another and talk about "the want ads" in the newspaper. The language they use is colloquial and informal and suggests a real, authentic conversation. For example, Keller asks Frank, "What's doin'?" and Frank replies, "Nothin'. Walking off my breakfast." The elision in the words "doin'" and "Nothin,'" whereby the final "g" in both instances is omitted, is a good example of the realistic language that Miller uses to create authentic, believable voices for his characters. In the course of their conversation, Frank and Keller also use everyday colloquialisms such as "gonna," "hya," and "ain't."
This realistic, authentic language used in the characters' speech is markedly different to the more symbolic, poetical language used in the stage directions. For example, describing the arbor, Miller writes that it was "shaped like a sea shell," and describing the character of Keller, Miller writes that he is "a man whose judgements must be dredged out of experience." The simile in the first example, and the metaphor in the second, are good examples of the more poetical language used in the stage directions of the play.
Another good example of the more poetical language of the stage directions can be found in Miller's descriptions of the apple tree in Keller's garden. Miller describes the "stump of a slender apple tree whose upper trunk and branches lie toppled beside it, fruit still clinging to its branches." This apple tree is symbolic of Keller's dead son, Larry. The fact that the branches have become separated from the trunk, but still retain fruit, symbolizes Keller's complicated feelings about his dead son. Those feelings are, like the tree, broken and incomplete, but, like the branches of the tree, are still very much alive and changing.