Act I, Part 1: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. In what city does Willy Loman live?

2. What surrounds Willy’s house?

3. In what way has Miller used transparent walls to indicate when characters are in the past rather than the present?

4. What is Willy’s job?

5. From where has Willy returned early? Why?

6. Does Willy have confidence in his ability to do his own job?

7. Who has come home to visit Willy and Linda?

8. Whom does Willy criticize and why?

9. Why does Willy stop his criticizing?

10. Who begins to listen to Willy and Linda’s conversation just before Willy goes to the kitchen to make a sandwich?

Answers
1. Willy Loman lives in New York City.

2. Recently built apartment buildings surround the house, giving it a small, fragile appearance.

3. When action occurs in the past, characters enter or exit through the walls. When action occurs in the present, they enter and exit through the doors.

4. He is a traveling salesman; specifically, he is his company’s salesman for New England.

5. He has returned early from a sales trip to New England after almost having a car accident while driving.

6. Yes. His confidence is evident in his remark to Linda: “I could sell them!” However, Willy does seem worried or scared about his daydreaming and the loss of self-control it implies.

7. Their son, Biff, has come to visit them.

8. Willy criticizes Biff because, at the age of 34, Biff does not have a successful career. Willy does not approve of Biff’s many years of insignificant jobs.

9. Willy stops criticizing Biff when Willy remembers Biff’s high school popularity and athleticism. Willy’s mood shifts and he starts to think Biff will eventually have a promising career as an adult.

10. Biff and Happy, awake in their upstairs bedroom, hear their parents talking toward the end of their conversation.