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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

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Act I, Part 3: Questions and Answers

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 449

Study Questions
1. What do we learn about Willy’s ability as a salesman as this section of the play begins?

2. Does Willy ever doubt that he is attractive and well liked?

3. What memory or daydream does Willy have immediately after he tells Linda, “You’re the best there is”?

4. What gift does Willy not give to Linda, even though he does give it to someone else?

5. Why does Willy scream at Linda and Bernard to “Shut up!”?

6. Do Willy and Charley play cards in the present or in the past of a flashback?

7. Who is Ben and why does Willy admire him?

8. Why is the watchman chasing Biff?

9. What does Charley offer Willy as they play cards? Does Willy accept?

10. Does Willy’s conversation with Ben convince Willy that he has been raising his sons correctly?

1. We discover that Willy exaggerates; after telling Linda he did very well on his recent trip, he admits he is not a very successful salesman and becomes discouraged.

2. Yes. Despite trying to explain away his lack of success in
sales, Willy does confess to Linda that he fears people think of him as fat, foolish, and too talkative.

3. Willy remembers or has a daydream about his affair with a woman in Boston.

4. He gives stockings to his mistress in Boston, but he does not give the same gift to Linda, who mends her own torn stockings.

5. After remembering the way he has betrayed his wife by having an affair, Willy becomes confused and frustrated when Linda and Bernard’s questions remind him of Biff’s questionable behavior. Willy yells “Shut up!” because the emotional pressure of the situation is overwhelming him.

6. They play cards in the present. After the extended flashback that began in Part 2, Willy finds himself still in the kitchen, where he went to make a sandwich. Hap comes downstairs to help his father to bed but leaves when Charley enters.

7. Ben is Willy’s older brother, who is now dead but whom Willy remembers while playing cards with Charley. Willy admires Ben because Ben represents the wealthy, heroic, charismatic ideal to which Willy urges his sons to aspire.

8. The watchman is chasing Biff because he and Hap – at their father’s request – have tried to steal material from a construction site.

9. Charley, guessing that Willy is having trouble at work, offers him a job. Too proud to admit he is having difficulty, Willy does not accept and asks why Charley would insult him with such an offer.

10. Yes. When Ben tells Willy that he has been doing a “first-rate” job with his son, Willy is reassured that he has correctly prepared his sons to follow in Ben’s footsteps.

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