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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

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Act II, Part 4: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What lies does Hap tell and why?

2. Did Bill Oliver give Biff the loan? Does Biff tell Hap that he got the loan or not?

3. What particular memory causes Biff to exclaim, “I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been”?

4. What did Biff steal from Oliver’s office? Why?

5. What does Willy want to tell Linda?

6. What are the three flashbacks, memories, or hallucinations that Willy experiences while talking to Biff and Hap?

7. What story do Biff and Hap concoct when Willy’s behavior becomes increasingly confusing and frightening?

8. Why does Biff tell Willy, “I’m no good, can’t you see what I am?”

9. Why does Willy excuse himself from the table to go to the bathroom?

10. Do Biff, Hap, and Willy leave the restaurant together?

1. He lies to Stanley by telling him that Biff is a big cattle man. He lies to Miss Forsythe by telling her that he sells champagne, that he went to West Point, and that Biff is the Giants’ quarterback. These lies are designed to impress Stanley and especially Miss Forsythe, whom Hap sexually desires.

2. Biff tells Hap the truth: Bill Oliver did not give Biff the loan.

3. Biff remembers that he was only a shipping clerk for Bill Oliver and never a salesman. Convincing himself he was a salesman strikes Biff as an example of how he has been living in a dream.

4. Biff stole an expensive fountain pen. However, he can think of no explanation for having taken it. He may have been motivated by a desire to possess some of Oliver’s wealth, a desire to spite Oliver for not remembering him, or a desire purposely to hurt his chances for the kind of responsible career from which he has always retreated.

5. A little good news. After having lost his job, Willy wants to have something positive to tell Linda when he returns home. He hopes the good news will be that Oliver has given Biff the loan.

6. First, Willy sees a flashback in which Bernard tells Linda that Biff has flunked math. Second, Willy hears a hotel phone operator tell someone that Mr. Loman is not in his room. Third, Willy hears the laughing voice of the Boston woman. The audience experiences all three along with Willy, but Biff and Hap do not.

7. They tell Willy that Bill Oliver is still considering Biff’s proposal and that Biff has a chance to convince Oliver at a lunch meeting tomorrow.

8. Biff wants desperately to end the conflict between him and his father by making sure Willy knows that Biff did not intentionally offend Oliver out of spite for Willy.

9. Willy says he is going to the bathroom after catching himself in a hallucination in which, prompted by the Boston woman’s voice, he wants to open the door of the hotel room.

10. No. While Willy is away from the table, Biff leaves after arguing with Hap. Hap soon follows, saying to Miss Forsythe and Letta that Willy is not really his father.

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