The play Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, is about the events leading up to the death of Willy Loman. Willy Loman is a salesman who lives in New York, but his job requires him to travel all the way to Boston to sell. As Willy grows old this trip begins to be tiring for not only Willy’s body but also his mind. In the weeks preceding his death Willy’s mind seems to constantly drift to thoughts of the past, right up until his death.
The book begins with Willy having just arrived home from Boston, having scared himself by driving off the road. His mind had been drifting and he even believed that he was driving an old car that he used to own. He decides that before he goes to bed he will have a piece of cheese, so he heads down to get some out of the refrigerator. When Willy goes to get his cheese his mind drifts off and he starts to have a flashback of when his kids were young. In Willy’s flashback the two kids idolize their father, and when he comes home from work they wash his car, and Willy gives them a present. Biff was a terrific football player and already had a scholarship to the University of West Virginia. His math skills were not as good as his football skills, and he fails math and chooses not to make it up in summer school. Happy, Willy’s other kid, is two years younger than Biff. Willy didn’t think as much about Happy as he did about Biff. Willy thinks about what happened during the days when his kids were just young and also dreams of his brother Ben, who had gone to Alaska to find their father. Willy just wants his kids to make a good living in business and mentions a couple of times about the man who walked into the jungle with nothing and come out rich. Linda, Willy’s wife, then snaps Willy out of his trance by asking him if he got his cheese yet, and Willy goes for a walk.
Beneath Willy’s happy thoughts of how it used to be was a sad man who feels that his children have abandoned him after all he has done for them. Linda, in tears, explains to her children how all the car accidents Willy has had lately were not accidents but were on purpose. She tells her sons about a rubber hose she found in the basement along with a dimple in one the gas pipes. She demands Biff and Happy be nice to Willy and tells Biff to talk to his father the way he used to, instead of constantly arguing with him. When Biff hears this news he starts raving about how crazy his father is and Willy overhears him. Willy begins yelling at Biff and tells him to go back to the West, where he had a job making barely anything. Biff and Happy then explain to their father how they are going to go visit a former employer of Biffs to try and get some money to start a business. This makes Willy very happy because his kids are finally going to make something out of themselves. The anger that had filled him a minute ago had left, and he was now very happy explaining to Biff exactly how to act at the meeting and what to say.
The next day Willy awakes to find his kids not there, having already gone to their meeting. In the meantime Willy goes and meets with his boss to ask for a job in New York because he is old and tired and can no longer make that trip to Boston. His boss not only turns down his request, but fires him and tells him to come back after a long rest. Willy also pays a visit to the office of his neighbor, Charley, who he has secretly been borrowing money from. He has been borrowing money from Charley because he no longer makes as much money as he used to and he feels he can no longer support his wife. While at the office he meets an old school mate of Biff, Charlie’s son Bernard. Bernard asked Willy why Biff had never completed summer school. Bernard said that Biff had planned to sign up for summer school and make up the math class but first went to visit Willy in Boston. He asked what happened in Boston because when Biff returned he had decided that he would not make up his math class. Willy yells at Bernard for trying to blame him for Biff’s failure and then Bernard leaves. Charley offers Willy a job but for some reason Willy will not take the job offered to him and instead borrows money and leaves.
Willy and his two kids then meet for dinner to discuss whether they had gotten the money or not. Biff did not have good news though, he remembered that he had never even worked there and ended up stealing a pen. Biff breaks the bad news to his father and he starts to drift off again. He has another flashback off when Biff had come to visit him in Boston. He remembered how Biff had come to his hotel room and found another women in Willy’s bathroom and became very upset. When he snaps out of it he comes to find that his kids have abandoned him at the restaurant and left with two women. Later on, when the kids come home, Linda is very angry with them for what they have done and tells them they are just bums and she wants them out of her house. Biff says he must talk to his father but Linda will not tell them where he is at because they do not want them to talk to him. They find him in the back yard planting seeds, and Biff and Willy then get into a big argument. Biff tries to explain to Willy that his expectations for him are set to high and that he is just a bum not worth anything. Willy thinks that Biff is just doing this out of spite and will not listen to what Biff says. Biff finally begins to cry and asks his father to forget the dreams he has for him and says that he is going to bed and will leave in the morning. Willy finally seems to realize that his son does love him after all and becomes very happy.
When everybody goes to bed Willy tells his wife he will be up in two minutes and to go up without him. Willy then has another discussion with his brother Ben about what he should do and comes to a decision. As Linda calls for Willy to come upstairs he instead climbs into his car. Willy takes off at full speed in his car crashing and ending his own life. Willy was always bragging about all the friends he had made in Boston but the only people to come to his funeral were his wife, his two kids, his neighbor Charley, and Charlie’s son Bernard. When the rest leave Linda talks to Willy and asks why he has done this and why she cannot seem to cry. She says that they had finished paying off the house and that they were free.
Willy’s condition seems to be aggravated by the failures of his son Biff. I believe that Willy feels responsible for the failure of his son Biff and this is the reason why he attempts to kill himself. Willy gave everything he had to his kids when they were young and when they grew up they just abandoned their father. I think that Willy feels responsible for causing his son not to complete math and go on to finish college and get a good job in business. Willy may have killed himself because he felt that he could no longer support his wife.