Death of a Salesman- Act 2 Essay
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Q1. Why is Willy’s mood upbeat at the start of Act Two? What does he expect to happen?
Ans: Willy’s mood is upbeat at the start of Act two because he felt that his family and everything was finally coming together. Before, Biff decided that he was going to meet Oliver and join into the business field. Willy finally felt revealed because Happy came up with an idea for Biff and Happy to start a business together. He expected that Bill Oliver would recognize Biff and give him a job with Biff asking for at least fifteen thousand.
This made him over excited because he felt that the family would be happier and Biff would get the success that he wants.
Q2. Why does Willy tell Howard about Dave Singleman? Describe the dramatic effect when Howard listens to the voices of his family while Willy tries o talk business. Why does Howard tell Willy to drop off his samples and forbid him to go to Boston? Why is this such a blow to Willy?
Ans: Dave Singleman was a great salesman who made his living without leaving his house until the age of eighty-four. He was a very popular and well known man who was greatly missed when he died. Willy told Howard about Dave because he wants to prove to him that Willy can also be a successful salesman while staying at home too. He also wants to show him how there was gratitude and respect for one another back then, and how everything changed in this generation for the worse. When Willy was trying to speak about business, Howard kept listening to the voices of his family. Willy was trying to also listen and patiently wait until Howard was done, but soon felt irritated after a while when Howard would not pay attention to him. This set a bad mood for Willy as he was waiting for the chance to talk to Howard.
Howard tells Willy to drop off his samples and forbids him to go to Boston because he feels that Willy needs to take a break. After listening to Willy’s emotional break out, he was sure that he wanted to send Willy home until he was able to gain control over himself and his life. He felt that Willy wouldn’t be able to do his job right anymore and make the business suffer if he continues. This is such a blow to Willy because now he doesn’t have a job. Just for a small request to stay home and work, Willy suffered by overall losing his job. Now he would have the problem to make money for his family and pay for their bills, etc.
Q3. What is Willy’s philosophy? How does Biff as a football hero embody his father’s dreams? Why does Charley say Willy hasn’t grown up?
Ans: Willy believed to become successful you needed to be physically attractive and fit. He felt that playing sports and being popular, and revolving everything around the personal appearance would lead anyone to easy success and well performance. Willy used to dedicate himself to Biff when he used to play football. He allowed Biff to do anything as long as he succeeded in football and tried to become the best.
This would fulfill his dreams of his children being physically fit and stable and being able to have the strength and determination to succeed. Charley says that Willy hasn’t grown up because Willy still seems to have a stubborn attitude where he always wants to be superior compared to everyone else. Willy made himself believe that he was always better than everyone, even if it wasn’t true. Charley felt that Willy hasn’t seen the reality of life yet and still chooses to live in his illusions.
Q4. What is Willy’s impression of Bernard when he sees him in his father’s office? Why does Willy exaggerate Biff’s importance? Why does Bernard ask what happened after the game at Ebbets Field?
Ans: Willy was shocked to see Bernard at his father’s office. When they started talking, Willy seemed to feel a little jealous of Bernard as he was going to Washington and staying with some friends who were rich. When he hears about Bernard’s plans and success, he starts to exaggerate about Biff’s importance. He does this because he cannot stand the fact that Bernard is more successful than Biff, and therefore tries to make Biff sound superior compared to everyone else. Bernard asks what happens after the game at Ebbets Field because he notices that Biff’s life changed completely afterwards and nothing good ever happened after that time. He noticed that there was a change in Biff’s attitude and the he could tell that Biff gave up on life, and he wanted to know what had caused all this.
-Q5. Why won’t Willy work for Charley? Why is Willy able to ask Charley for money? How is Charley’s view of what a salesman needs different from Willy’s view?
Ans: For many years, Willy has made himself feel like he is better than most people, and has had this superior complex. He tries to compare himself to Charley and finds excuses and ways to say that he is better than him, even though he knows that Charley is more successful in life which makes him jealous of Charley. Therefore, Willy refuses to work for Charley because that would just be another way of saying that Charley is more successful than him. Willy is able to ask Charley for money because he knows that Charley is his only friend he has, and will be the only one who will actually lend him money. Charley’s view of what a salesman needs is different from Willy’s view because Charley feels that
-Q6. In the restaurant, how does Happy reflect Willy’s values? Why does Miller have the girls come in?
Ans: Miller had the girls come in so we could see how arrogant Biff and Happy are as they leave the restaurant leaving Willy all by himself and go with those girls. This shows us how much they cared for their father at the time and how irresponsible they were.
Q7. How does Biff’s realization that his life is a lie underline the theme of the play? Why does Biff take Bill Oliver’s fountain pen? Why can’t he tell his father what happened with Bill Oliver? Why do Biff and Happy leave Willy at the restaurant?
Ans: After meeting Bill Oliver and realizing that he didn’t even remember him, Biff finally understands that his life in business is just a joke and that it was a waste of time to continue. This underlines the theme of the play as it shows how he saw his life the way he wanted to and was in his own illusions and dreams for fifteen years until he met reality. Biff realizes now that success doesn’t come easily, and that he should do what he wants in life. Biff takes Bill Oliver’s fountain pens while a rush of anger and confusion is going through his mind. Because Oliver didn’t even recognize Biff, he had an urge to just go into his office and just take what he could to satisfy and calm himself.
Biff cannot tell his father what happened with Bill Oliver because he doesn’t want to disappoint him. He knows that his decision to meet Bill made Willy extremely happy, and he was ashamed as Bill Oliver wasn’t even able to give him a job, yet recognize him. And even when he had tried to tell Willy any bad news, Willy would jump to conclusions and wouldn’t give him the proper chance or time to let Biff explain himself. Happy and Biff leave Willy at the restaurant because they didn’t want to discuss what had happened that day. They left with a couple of girls for some fun leaving Willy alone because Happy wanted Biff to feel better and take his mind off all his problems.
Q8. Why did Biff go to Boston? What does he discover when he see the Woman? Why is it that Biff never went to summer school? Why can’t he believe his father?
Ans: Biff flunked math and didn’t get enough credits to graduate. Therefore he came to Boston to meet his dad and ask him to talk to his teachers to give him some points. He thought that Willy would be able to talk to them in “his way” and could be able to get enough points to make Biff pass. When Biff sees the Women, he discovers that his father is a fake and was doing something completely wrong. He also sees that Willy had given his mothers stockings to the woman. Biff never went to summer school after that incident because he was completely shocked and let down by his father. He wasn’t in the position anymore to take summer school classes as the situation left him into a state of depression. He couldn’t believe his father because he never thought that he would actually turn on his mother and do this to her and their family. This left Biff in a state of confusion and shock where he wasn’t able to forgive his father.
Q9. Why does Linda tell the boys, “Get out of here, both of you, and don’t come back!”?
Ans: Linda yells at the boys because she is disappointed and furious with them. When she found out that they had left Willy all by himself at the restaurant, she was very angry and didn’t want to see or speak to either of them. She was also disappointed because she just started to think that things in their family were going to go back to normal and everyone was going to be happy, and after the incident, she was disappointed that there were still more issues to take care of. She feels that the boys don’t respect their father, and care more about the women they went off with. She also feels like her sons are just tormenting Willy and using him for financial backup, shelter, etc. but are not giving him the support, love and respect he needs and deserves.
Q10. Why does Willy keep planting seeds when they’ve never grown before? Why does Willy think Biff will be impressed with his funeral? Why does Ben say that Biff will call Willy a fool?
Ans: Willy keeps planting seeds because he wants his family to have something left to remember him by after he passes away. He knows that he hasn’t succeeded much in life and wasn’t able to give him family much and therefore he wants to leave something behind for them. They could use the plants to use or sell them, and they will have a nice garden in their house. Willy thinks that Biff will be impressed with his funeral because he feels that many people from different states all over the country will come to visit him at his funeral. He wants to show Biff that he is well known and cared for by others. Ben says that Biff will call Willy a fool because he knows that Willy is not well known, and that no one will show up at his funeral, and Biff will know that his father was a coward and end up hating him.
Q11. Why doesn’t Willy want to see Linda? Why does he think Biff is spiting him? Why does Biff show him the rubber hose? Why does Biff confront Willy and Happy?
Ans: Willy doesn’t want to see Linda because he is ashamed of himself. Everyone knows about Biff’s failure to get a business job with Bill Oliver, and Willy feels that it is his fault why this had happened. Therefore, he feels ashamed to show his face to Linda. He feels that Biff is spiting him because he feels that Biff is blaming all his failure on Willy. He doesn’t seem to care about the family and tells them to forget that he is alive, and that he would just send them a cheque if he could. Biff shows Willy the rubber hose because he wants Willy to know that the entire family knows what is going on and what he has been up to. Biff wants to show Willy that they are all worried about him and let him know what kind of pressure he is putting the whole family under but trying to commit suicide.
Q12. What does Biff do that elates Willy? How does Happy try to attract Willy’s attention? How does Ben influence Willy at this point?
Ans: Biff starts to cry for his father which seems to elate him. After stating what kind of life Biff was in before coming home, he broke into tears for Willy to help him get rid of his childish dreams before something happens. He wanted to stop imagining his future, and actually start something that he could do. Happy tries to attract Willy’s attention by telling them that he was going to chance, get married soon, and his the department he was working for. Ben influences Willy at this point by showing him how Biff would be better off with Willy’s insurance money as it would be more than what Willy is making now. He states that “the jungle is dark but full of diamonds.” He tells Willy that Biff can succeed in life, but just needs a starting push. This influences Willy to commit suicide so that his family could get his insurance money.
Q1. What is a requiem? What is the purpose of the final act? To what extent is it successful?
Ans: A requiem is a celebration for the commemoration of the dead. It is usually a funeral service or a memorial service. The purpose of the final act was for the Loman’s to figure out what they should do with their lives. Biff and Happy wanted to finally get a hold of their goals and start something in their life. This all could have made the family happier and successful. Even though the family had planned to try to become successful in business, it didn’t work out. Biff finally decided what he wanted to do in his life, which was to be outdoors. This upset Willy, which therefore led the family into a different situation. The final act ended in a disrupt manner as Willy committed suicide to help his family with their financial problems, and help Biff and Happy to start their careers and lives.
Q2. Charley says: “No man only needs a little salary.” To what is he referring? What else does a man need?
Ans: When Charley says that “no man only needs a little salary”, he is trying to say that just the minimum money earned will never be enough for any man. Men always want more than what they have for their own satification and to have more for their happiness. A man also needs the due respect they deserve. A man wants the best for their family, and wants to see their families excelling and to be superior to others.
Q3. Explain the irony of Linda’s last speech.
Ans: In Linda’s last speech she questions Willy and asks why he had to leave them. She doesn’t understand why Willy had chosen to make that decision and still feels like waiting for him to come back. She tells Willy that she isn’t able to cry for him. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care about him and isn’t able to show her emotions, but she is in such a confused state, that she doesn’t even know what to do.