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?
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.
1. How old are Biff and Hap during their conversation in the bedroom? Does that conversation take place in the past or the present?
2. What was Biff’s latest job? What kind of job or career can he not bear?
3. Why doesn’t Hap accept Biff’s invitation to go West to start a farm?
4. In what kind of unethical behavior has Hap engaged?
5. What plan does Biff tell Hap about as the brothers fall back asleep? Why is Biff somewhat nervous about the plan?
6. How does the audience know that a flashback occurs?
7. Is Willy bashful or shy about his ability as a salesman?
8. How are Biff and Hap different from Bernard?
9. According to Willy, what makes someone successful?
10. How might the flashback affect what you think of the Biff and Hap in the present?
1. The conversation takes place in the present, when Biff is 34 and Hap is 32.
2. Biff’s latest job was as a farmhand in Texas. He cannot bear the drudgery and slow advancement involved with jobs such as a salesman and a shipping clerk.
3. Hap refuses to go because he wants to “show some of those pompous, self-important executives over there that Hap Loman can make the grade.”
4. He has slept with the girlfriends of his bosses and has accepted bribes.
5. Biff tells Hap he intends to ask for a loan from...
(The entire section is 439 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 449 words.)
1. Where does Linda lay the blame for Willy’s disoriented, hallucinatory condition?
2. While trying to convince Biff that he should stop continually fighting with Willy, does Linda argue that Willy has no faults?
3. Why is it that “attention must be paid” to Willy?
4. Why must Willy borrow $50 every week from Charley?
5. According to Biff, why did Willy originally throw him out of the house many years ago?
6. What did Linda learn about Willy from the insurance inspector?
7. What hidden object has Linda recently discovered and why has it caused her to worry?
8. Why does Biff intend to ask Bill Oliver for a loan?
9. What does Willy think of Biff’s idea to ask Oliver for a loan?
10. What does Biff remove from behind the gas heater?
1. Linda believes that Willy’s troubles stem partly from Biff’s failure to write Willy, to reconcile their differences, and to settle into a career.
2. No. Linda admits Willy is “not easy to get along with – nobody knows that better than me.”
3. Linda tells Biff and Hap that “attention must be paid” to Willy not because he is a great man, but simply because he is a human being – an aging man who is exhausted after working for so many years with very little to show for it.
4. He borrows the money because he is not earning very much as a salesman now that he is working on commission rather than receiving a salary. His friendly customers have either died or retired, leaving Willy with few easy sales.
5. Biff contends that Willy threw him out “because I know he’s a fake,” although Biff never explains precisely what he means by this.
6. Linda learned that Willy’s several recent car accidents were probably his deliberate attempts to injure himself – perhaps even attempts to commit suicide.
7. Linda has discovered a rubber pipe that Willy has hidden. She is worried because she believes Willy may commit suicide by using the pipe to breath gas from the heater.
8. Biff plans to ask Oliver for a loan so he and Hap can start a line of sporting goods.
9. Willy is thrilled by the plan. He pesters Biff with advice about how to behave during the meeting with Oliver, but he calls the sporting goods line a “one-million-dollar idea.”
10. He removes the rubber pipe that Linda said Willy might use to kill himself.
1. In the morning, Willy tells Linda he will buy something for the backyard. What does he intend to buy and what does Miller seem to mean by this purchase?
2. As he leaves the house, what does Willy plan to ask Howard?
3. What message does Linda relay to Willy from Biff and Hap?
4. Why do Linda’s stockings make Willy nervous?
5. What machine does Howard show Willy? How might Howard’s comments about this machine make Willy uncomfortable?
6. Does Willy receive a non-traveling job or does he continue in his old job as traveling salesman?
7. Who is Dave Singleman and what significance does he hold for Willy?
8. What reasons does Howard give for not granting Willy’s requests and finally firing him?
9. Why does Willy mention Howard’s father?
10. Where does Howard suggest Willy look for support?
1. Willy intends to buy some seeds to plant a garden in the backyard. The seeds seem to signify Willy’s renewed hope, but because of his lack of success in the past we must question whether anything will change for Willy.
2. Willy plans to ask Howard for a non-traveling sales job. In addition, he plans to ask for an advance in pay so he can settle his bills.
3. Linda tells Willy that he should meet Biff and Hap at a restaurant at six o’clock because his sons want to buy him dinner...
(The entire section is 535 words.)
1. Who does Willy “meet” after Howard fires him?
2. When Willy tells his brother that “nothing is working out,” what opportunity does Ben offer Willy?
3. What does Linda think of Ben’s offer?
4. What two things does Linda mention to persuade Willy of her opinion about his current job?
5. Does Willy accept Ben’s offer?
6. When Willy asks one last time if Ben approves of his ideas about business and the way he has raised his son, how does Ben respond?
7. Why is it an important day for Biff?
8. Does Charley expect Willy to accept his invitation to play cards?
9. Why does Willy challenge Charley to fight?
10. What comment does this scene as a whole make about Willy’s mood after being fired by Howard?
1.Willy “meets” Ben, his older brother. More precisely, Willy remembers or daydreams the meeting, which appears to the audience as a flashback to time several years ago when Ben visited Willy after a trip to Alaska.
2. Ben offers Willy the chance to work for him in Alaska.
3. Linda does not want Willy to accept the job in Alaska. She thinks Willy should be happy enough in his present job.
4. To persuade Willy not to accept the job in Alaska, Linda reminds Willy that old man Wagner has said Willy may become a member in the firm; she also reminds him of...
(The entire section is 463 words.)
1. How has Bernard changed from when he was a boy?
2. What is Bernard’s job and what will he do in Washington, DC?
3. Why did Biff not graduate from high school?
4. What big question does Bernard ask Willy? How does Willy respond?
5. According to Charley, why doesn’t Bernard mention the reason for his trip to Washington, DC?
6. Why does Willy ask Charley to borrow more than the usual $50?
7. Other than a loan of money, what does Charley offer Willy? Does Willy accept?
8. Does Willy conceal from Charley the fact that Howard fired him?
9. What does Charley say about Willy’s belief that success would come...
(The entire section is 464 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 507 words.)
1. Who is The Woman?
2. Approximately what age is Biff when he visits Willy in Boston?
3. What event causes Biff to come to Boston to see Willy?
4. What favor does Biff ask Willy to do?
5. What gift does The Woman insist that Willy give her before she will leave his room?
6. How does Willy initially explain the presence of The Woman in his room?
7. What is Biff’s reaction to finding The Woman in his father’s room? What does he yell at Willy as he leaves the room?
8. Why is Linda angry with Biff and Hap when they return to the house?
9. What does Linda order Biff and Hap to do? How does Biff respond?...
(The entire section is 378 words.)
1. What is Willy’s “proposition”?
2. What effect does Willy think his death will have on Linda and Biff?
3. Will the insurance company pay if it determines that Willy’s death is a suicide rather than an accident?
4. What is Biff’s solution to ending the conflict between him and his father?
5. What object does Biff show Willy?
6. Has Biff spited Willy?
7. Does Ben approve of Willy’s “proposition”?
8. What effect does Willy anticipate his death having on the continuing competition he imagines between Bernard and Biff?
9. By the end of the scene, is Willy still angry with Biff?
(The entire section is 510 words.)
1. Do many people attended Willy’s funeral?
2. What is Hap’s mood? What does he plan to do?
3. According to Charley, to what should we attribute Willy’s frustration and death?
4. Where does Biff think Willy actually put his greatest feeling – into his job as a salesman or elsewhere?
5. According to Biff, why did Willy live a life of misplaced hope, a life that ended in suicide?
6. Will Biff stay in New York and pursue the career Willy hoped he would?
7. Has Willy’s family received the $20,000 that Willy thought the insurance company would pay them upon his death?
8. Why does Linda find it hard to understand why...
(The entire section is 460 words.)