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Act One - Part 1

The play is centered on Willy Loman's house, with additional scenes taking place in various places that he visits in New York and Boston. There is a kitchen in the center of the house, at the back of which is the entrance to the living room. There are two bedrooms (one for Willy and his wife, and the other for their two boys). Behind the house, we see towering apartment buildings. The area in front of the house symbolizes the backyard (and is also the site of Willy's soliloquies, reenactments, and thoughts, as well as the location in which his scenes in the city take place).

Willy enters with two large sample cases, and his entrance wakes up his wife Linda who comes downstairs, worried, since he has come home earlier than expected. Willy explains that nothing happened, but that he just could not make it all the way to his destination. On the road that night, he suddenly cannot drive anymore, and he is confused as to why he cannot concentrate on the road. He sighs and laments that he no longer feels needed by his company, especially since old man Wagner has passed away and his son Howard has taken over, who does not have the same respect for Willy that his father had. Linda begs him to explain to his boss nonetheless that he is too old and cannot travel long distances anymore.

Willy changes the subject and asks Linda about the boys, Happy and Biff, who have both been home for the first time in a long while. Linda brings up the fight that Willy and Biff had that morning, since Willy disapproves of Biff's latest decision to live and work on a farm for a living. He cannot understand why Biff, at the age of 34, still cannot find a decent career.

Willy then starts to berate the overpopulation in the neighborhood and city, which he feels is stifling him. At his comments, the boys sit up in bed in the upstairs bedroom to listen to the conversation downstairs. Linda suggests that they go for a drive on Sunday with the windows rolled down. Willy begins to remind her that the windshields do not roll down in new cars these days, but then he remembers that he is thinking about the old Chevy that he owned back in 1928. He starts to make his way to their bedroom with Linda, but then stops and tells her that he will be right there.

Upstairs the boys have a whispered conversation, as they continue to overhear their parents' conversation in the kitchen. Biff asks Happy why Willy makes fun of him and his decisions all the time. Happy replies that Willy is not mocking Biff and in fact, Willy talks about Biff all the time. Biff talks about his various careers in the past few years (shipping clerk, salesman, businessman, and now, farmhand), and he is saddened by the idea that he tries not to waste his life at all, but every time he comes home, the only thing Willy tells him is that he has done just that. Biff tries to rationalize his tendency to always move from job to job because when spring comes, he feels he has to move on to another place.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Act One - Part 1
Act One - Part 2
Act One - Part 3
Act One - Part 4
Act Two - Part 1
Act Two - Part 2
Act Two - Part 3
Act Two - Part 4
Act Two - Part 5
Requiem



 






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