Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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, Willy decides to commit suicide in the hopes that his family will receive $20,000 from his life insurance policy, which would improve their standard of living and earn Biff's admiration. Willy also wishes to impress Biff when his son sees the massive turnout for his funeral.

The requiem takes place at Willy's grave, where only his family and neighbor attend his funeral. Linda initially expresses her displeasure that nobody showed up to her husband's funeral, and Biff comments that his father had the wrong dreams. Charley then comments on Willy's difficult life as a salesman and gives insight into Willy's mindset. While Happy defends his father's dreams, Biff reveals that he knows exactly who he is as a person and will no longer lie to himself. Linda ends the play by speaking to her buried husband and telling him that she cannot cry because she feels like he is simply on a long sales trip. She also searches for a reason why Willy committed suicide and says that she made the final payment on the home earlier that day, which is ironic given the fact that Willy would have been a debt-free man.

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jking22 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the end of Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman, the main character throughout the story, commits suicide in an automobile accident and dies. Willy commits this act to allow his family to cash in on his 20,000 dollar life insurance policy so that his son Biff can get the money he needs to start his own business. Willy hopes that many people will attend the funeral, and Biff will see that Willy was actually someone popular and worth while knowing, and that this will cause Biff to realize that Willy was an important and successful salesman despite the fact that Biff caught his father cheating on his mother during a flashback earlier in the story. Sadly, only close family and friends attend the funeral, and the story ends with the family and their neighbors, Bernard and Charlie, standing at Willy's grave. During this scene, Biff tells the family he plans to leave town, while Happy, Willy's other son, tells everyone he will stay in New York and pursue Willy's dream of making a successful living in sales. The narrative ends with Willy's wife Linda pleading and asking why Willy would do this. Ironically, she confesses to paying off their house in full, a house that is now empty, with the insurance money from Willy's death.

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