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As the play opens, Linda very interestingly seems to be very concerned to hear Willy return back home earlier than normal. Her voice calls out with "some trepidation," and she very soon after asks if he has returned because he has "smashed the car," indicating that he has been having problems with driving recently. Willy replies that he "couldn't make it," and that he is "tired to the death." He tells Linda how he had to stop when he realised he had blanked out:
Suddenly I realise 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.
Note his verbal hesitation in these lines as he tries to find the words to describe what happened to him. The dashes also possibly indicate a hesitation to admit that he wasn't able to keep focused on the job. The play therefore opens by revealing to us that Willy is getting older and unable to do the job that he has been doing for so long. He is a man of fading capabilities, and his wife is clearly concerned for him and his health.
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