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Act One - Part 2

Happy says that he has most of the things he has ever wanted (his own apartment, a car, and lots of women), but he is still sad. Biff starts with the idea that Happy should go out west with him, since men like them ought to be working outside anyway. Happy excites at the idea ("The Loman Brothers" together). Before the boys get back to sleep, content with this new idea of theirs, Biff brings up the idea of Bill Oliver, who told him once that if he ever needed anything that he should definitely come to him for help. Bill Oliver is a successful man now, and Biff wonders if he even remembers him, especially since Bill thinks that Biff stole a carton of basketballs from him once. Happy assures Biff that Bill would remember him and that Bill thought highly of him. Just then, the boys hear Willy talking loudly to himself downstairs, and Biff is irritated since he knows that Linda can probably hear Willy's ranting.

Willy is thinking back to 1928, on a day when he comes home after a trip and the boys polish the car. Young Biff and Happy come onstage, and Willy surprises them with a punching bag with Gene Tunney's signature on it. The boys are delighted, and they fill their father in on their stories. Biff's football coach has told Biff to practice his passing, so Biff "borrows" a ball, but everyone knows that he has taken it without permission. Willy overlooks the theft and lets the boys know that he plans to own his own business one day, one that will be even bigger than Uncle Charley's. Willy tells the boys all about his trip and the famous people with whom he converses, and the boys are eager to come with Willy on one of his trips some day to New England.

Young Bernard, a school acquaintance of Biff's, enters and reminds Biff that he should be studying math, since their math teacher had threatened to flunk him. Willy, instead of encouraging Biff to study with the intelligent Bernard, says that Biff should not have to worry about studying, since he has three athletic scholarships and calls Bernard a pest for bothering Biff at all. Using the same terminology that Willy had used to describe Uncle Charley, Biff explains that Bernard is liked, but not well-liked. Willy approves of this description and says that all the really matters in life is one's personality, not good marks in school. Happy asks if Willy has noticed that he has lost weight, but Willy does not respond.

Linda enters the scene, carrying some laundry, which the boys immediately take from her, at Willy's insistence. Biff calls out to his friends downstairs, whom he has temporarily ignored in light of Willy's return, and tells them to sweep out the basement. Willy starts to tell Linda about how great his trip was and about all the units he has sold, but when Linda tries to figure out exactly how much commission that entails, Willy is caught in a lie and has to readdress his original numbers. In fact, he has made a significant amount less than what he first brags over, and actually, he does not even make enough to cover their debts for the month. Linda explains that they have to make payments on the refrigerator, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, roof, and car.

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


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