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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

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Discussion Topic

The Lomans' transformations and future after Willy's suicide in Death of a Salesman

Summary:

In Death of a Salesman, after Willy's suicide, the Loman family undergoes significant transformations. Biff rejects his father's dream, seeking a simpler, more honest life, while Happy vows to continue Willy's legacy, driven by the same misguided ambitions. Linda, left to cope with her grief, gains a painful clarity about the futility of Willy's dreams and their impact on the family.

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In Death of a Salesman, do any of the Lomans learn something significant or undergo significant change?

Most of the Loman family learns something important, or changes in some way. Linda is finally free from debt, and in an incredibly sad way, free from the burden of Willy. She recognizes what Willy has tried to do for her, but one may assume that her life will grow better from this point on. Biff has finally come to understand his father, and in turn, understand himself. He seems determined not to be anything other than what he is, which may suggest happier times for him as well. Happy has changed too, although not necessarily for the better. Instead, he has taken up the mantle of Willy's dreams, pledging himself to keep his father's hopes alive.

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In Death of a Salesman, what may happen to the Lomans after Willy's suicide and what lessons have they learned or failed to learn?

Since this is all conjecture, there really is no wrong answer, so here goes :-)

Becuase they really haven't been paying attention, the insurance company doesn't figure out that Willy committed suicide, and so Linda eventually gets the $10,000. She keeps $2000 and gives Happy $4000 and Biff $4000. Predicably, the money doesn't make a very big difference in the Lomans' lives.

Happy said of his father at the funeral:

He had a good dream. It’s the only dream you can have — to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna win it for him.

What his father went through has taught him absolutely nothing, and so he will continue to be a disappointed businessman, a braggart, and a lowly womanizer. Eventually he will marry someone in his office, treat her badly, cheat on her, get divorced and spend the rest of his life drinking and dreaming of the life he could have had.

Biff takes the money and moves back to Texas. He buys a little ranch, marries a woman who is a lot like his mother, unpretentious and gritty. They have have two little girls and live happily ever after.

With Biff in Texas and Happy all into himself, Linda is alone for a while. One day, her kitchen sink develops a leak. She goes next door to see if Charlie knows the name of a good plumber. Well, one thing leads to another, and eventually Charlie and Linda get married, and they, too, for the few years they have left, live a comfortable and satisfying life together.

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What likely happens to the Lomans after Willy's suicide in Death of a Salesman?

Based on what the characters say, Biff will attempt to find a job and maintain it. He has realized that his ambitions and self-image were false and outstripped his actual talents, abilities, and even his interests. He has achieved a new humility and plans to act upon it to create a life based on reality, not dreams. 

Happy, on the other hand, dedicates himself to pursuing Willy's dream. He speaks at Willy's funeral to this end, stating that Willy's dream is the only dream a person can have. Happy aligns himself with Willy, in his flaws, his goals, and his delusions. 

We can predict that he will fail to achieve his dream as he is ill-equipped like Willy was to pursue the adventure and success that uncle Ben achieved.

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