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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

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Why is Willy's mood upbeat at the start of Act 2? What does he expect to happen?

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Willy Loman is excited and full of hope because his son Biff is inquiring about a loan to start his own business. Biff plans on asking his old boss Oliver to loan him money to start a sporting business with Happy in Florida. Willy has high hopes for his son and is pleased that Biff is attempting to become successful in the business world. Willy believes that Biff will succeed because he is naturally handsome and athletic. In Willy's mind, all a person needs is charisma and looks to become a successful businessman.

Willy is also excited about asking his boss for a non-travelling job. Linda suggests that Willy ask his boss for an office job because she fears that Willy will get into a fatal accident. She also realizes that Willy is not mentally stable and believes that an office job is safer. Willy also believes that since he is a longtime employee, his boss will give him an office job. Willy has high hopes that his sons will become successful businessmen and that he will finally have a peaceful office job in the city. Unfortunately, Biff does not receive the money to start his business, and Willy gets fired. 

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Willy has tremendous hope at the beginning of Act 2.

Biff has a meeting with his old employer while Willy has a meeting with his current employer.  Sadly all hopes are crushed as Willy is fired and Biff is completely ignored.  The Loman family is kicked once again by society at large.

The family meal (notice Linda is not a part of the "celebration") at Frank's Chop House turns into a fiasco due to the harsh slap of reality across the faces of the Loman clan.

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Willy has been duped by his reliance on an idealistic and unrealistic American Dream. Having been "caught up" by his sons plans to open a sporting good store, he begins Act II full of hope and energy. He imagines that Biff will get the loan from Oliver; that he, Willy, will get the transfer to a non-traveling job when he asks for it; that the boys will open their sporting store and become a huge success. When Linda tells him that the boys have said they want to take him to dinner, Willy imagines Biff announcing that he has received the loan while Willy himself announces that he has a new job.

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As darkly portentous as Act One was, Act Two starts with hope. This sense of hope is important because when things work themselves out in the worst ways imaginable, we will come to better understand Willy's fatal decision.

The things that Willy is hopeful for in the bright morning that begins Act Two are:

1) Willy is tired. He has decided that he will go into the office and ask his boss, Howard, for a job with the firm that does not entail traveling.

2) Biff is going to see his...

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old employer, Bill Oliver. He's going to ask Oliver for a a large loan so that he can start a sorting goods company. Willy hopes that his favorite son will get the job and finally become a success.

3) With Willy's new job and Biff's loan, Willy imagines that he will eventually be able to retire and says:

...before it’s all over we’re gonna get a little place out in the country, and I’ll raise some vegetables, a couple of chickens...

4) Linda tells Willy that the boys want to take their father out to dinner in the evening... just Pop and his boys. Willy is thrilled and full of high spirits and pride at the news.

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