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Plot Summary

Willy Loman is an aging salesman who returns home one night from a sales trip, unable to concentrate on the road. He needs to keep making sales since there are so many payments to make, and they need the money. His wife, Linda, is worried about him, but she is completely devoted to him and encourages him to find a job where he does not have to travel anymore. His two adult sons, Happy and Biff, are back in the house for the first time in years, talking about their future job prospects. Both Biff and Willy are determined to ask for better jobs: Biff from Bill Oliver, a successful man whom he knew long ago, and Willy from Howard Wagner, the son of the man who first hired Willy to the firm. Both are unsuccessful.

As the play unfolds, the observer learns about various incidents in the Loman family past which account for their present condition. Biff, having always relied on athletics, fails math and does not graduate high school. Willy, having always encouraged Biff not to concentrate on academics since he had such great athletic potential, does not want to be blamed for Biff's failures. Moreover, one day, Biff catches Willy cheating on Linda with another woman in Boston, and his esteem for Willy completely vanishes. Willy thinks Biff is intentionally spiteful to him and only wants to hurt Willy, but soon Willy realizes that Biff just wants Willy to accept him for who he is. Biff says that he is not the business type and just wants to work on a farm in the open air, and he breaks down crying since Willy keeps forcing him to pursue a job with Bill Oliver. Biff says he does not want to lie anymore.

When Willy sees Biff crying, he finally realizes that Biff loves him and has not been trying to hurt him all these years. He wants to make up for it by giving Biff $20,000 with which to start a new business with, and Willy will get the money by killing himself and collecting the insurance policy. Willy kills himself by crashing the car before Biff can make amends with him. Biff realizes that they have all been living a false dream, but Happy is determined to carry out Willy's dreams. Linda is distraught, especially since she has just paid the last payment on the mortgage but now there is no one to live in the house.

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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