LINDA (hearing Willy outside the bedroom, calls with some trepidation): Willy! 

WILLY: It’s all right. I came back. 

LINDA: Why? What happened? (Slight pause.) Did something happen, Willy? 

WILLY: No, nothing happened. 

LINDA: You didn’t smash the car, did you? 

WILLY (with casual irritation): I said nothing happened. Didn’t you hear me? 

LINDA: Don’t you feel well? 

WILLY: I’m tired to the death. (The flute has faded away. He sits on the bed beside her, a little numb.) I couldn’t make it. I just couldn’t make it, Linda. 

LINDA (very carefully, delicately): Where were you all day? You look terrible. 

WILLY: I got as far as a little above Yonkers. I stopped for a cup of coffee. Maybe it was the coffee. 

LINDA: What? 

WILLY (after a pause): I suddenly couldn’t drive any more. The car kept going off onto the shoulder, y’know? 

LINDA (helpfully): Oh. Maybe it was the steering again. I don’t think Angelo knows the Studebaker. 

WILLY: No, it’s me, it’s me. Suddenly I realize I’m goin’ sixty miles an hour and I don’t remember the last five minutes. I’m — I can’t seem to — keep my mind to it. 

LINDA: Maybe it’s your glasses. You never went for your new glasses. 

WILLY: No, I see everything. I came back ten miles an hour. It took me nearly four hours from Yonkers. 

LINDA (resigned): Well, you’ll just have to take a rest, Willy, you can’t continue this way. 

WILLY: I just got back from Florida. 

LINDA: But you didn’t rest your mind. Your mind is overactive, and the mind is what counts, dear. 

WILLY: I’ll start out in the morning. Maybe I’ll feel better in the morning. (She is taking off his shoes.) These goddam arch supports are killing me. 

LINDA: Take an aspirin. Should I get you an aspirin? It’ll soothe you. 

WILLY (with wonder): I was driving along, you understand? And I was fine. I was even observing the scenery. You can imagine, me looking at scenery, on the road every week of my life. But it’s so beautiful up there, Linda, the trees are so thick, and the sun is warm. I opened the windshield and just let the warm air bathe over me. And then all of a sudden I’m goin’ off the road! I’m tellin’ya, I absolutely forgot I was driving. If I’d’ve gone the other way over the white line I might’ve killed somebody. So I went on again — and five minutes later I’m dreamin’ again, and I nearly... (He presses two fingers against his eyes.) I have such thoughts, I have such strange thoughts. 

LINDA: Willy, dear. Talk to them again. There’s no reason why you can’t work in New York. 

WILLY: They don’t need me in New York. I’m the New England man. I’m vital in New England. 

LINDA: But you’re sixty years old. They can’t expect you to keep travelling every week. 

WILLY: I’ll have to send a wire to Portland. I’m supposed to see Brown and Morrison tomorrow morning at ten o’clock to show the line. Goddammit, I could sell them! (He starts putting on his jacket.) 

LINDA (taking the jacket from him): Why don’t you go down to the place tomorrow and tell Howard you’ve simply got to work in New York? You’re too accommodating, dear. 

WILLY: If old man Wagner was alive I’d a been in charge of New York now! That man was a prince, he was a masterful man. But that boy of his, that Howard, he don’t appreciate. When I went north the first time, the Wagner Company didn’t know where New England was! 

LINDA: Why don’t you tell those things to Howard, dear? 

WILLY (encouraged): I will, I definitely will. Is there any cheese? 

LINDA: I’ll make you a sandwich. 

WILLY: No, go to sleep. I’ll take some milk. I’ll be up right away. The boys in? 

LINDA: They’re sleeping. Happy took Biff on a date tonight. 

WILLY (interested): That so? 

LINDA: It was so nice to see them shaving together, one behind the other, in the bathroom. And going out together. You notice? The whole house smells of shaving lotion. 

WILLY: Figure it out. Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it. 

LINDA: Well, dear, life is a casting off. It’s always that way. 

WILLY: No, no, some people- some people accomplish something. Did Biff say anything after I went this morning? 

LINDA: You shouldn’t have criticised him, Willy, especially after he just got off the train. You mustn’t lose your temper with him. 

WILLY: When the hell did I lose my temper? I simply asked him if he was making any money. Is that a criticism? 

LINDA: But, dear, how could he make any money? 

WILLY (worried and angered): There’s such an undercurrent in him. He became a moody man. Did he apologize when I left this morning? 

LINDA: He was crestfallen, Willy. You know how he admires you. I think if he finds himself, then you’ll both be happier and not fight any more. 

WILLY: How can he find himself on a farm? Is that a life? A farmhand? In the beginning, when he was young, I thought, well, a young man, it’s good for him to tramp around, take a lot of different jobs. But it’s more than ten years now and he has yet to make thirty-five dollars a week! 

LINDA: He’s finding himself, Willy. 

WILLY: Not finding yourself at the age of thirty-four is a disgrace!


WILLY: The trouble is he’s lazy, goddammit! 

LINDA: Willy, please! 

WILLY: Biff is a lazy bum! 

LINDA: They’re sleeping. Get something to eat. Go on down. 

WILLY: Why did he come home? I would like to know what brought him home. 

LINDA: I don’t know. I think he’s still lost, Willy. I think he’s very lost. 

WILLY: Biff Loman is lost. In the greatest country in the world a young man with such — personal attractiveness, gets lost. And such a hard worker. There’s one thing about Biff — he’s not lazy. 

LINDA: Never. 

WILLY (with pity and resolve): I’ll see him in the morning; I’ll have a nice talk with him. I’ll get him a job selling. He could be big in no time. My God! Remember how they used to follow him around in high school? When he smiled at one of them their faces lit up. When he walked down the street... (He loses himself in reminiscences.)

  • Death of a Salesman

    Penguin Modern Classics

  • Arthur Miller's extraordinary masterpiece, Death of a Salesman changed the course of modern theatre, and has lost none of its power as an examination of American life.

    'A man is not an orange. You can't eat the fruit and throw the peel away'

    Willy Loman is on his last legs. Failing at his job, dismayed at his the failure of his sons, Biff and Happy, to live up to his expectations, and tortured by his jealousy at the success and happiness of his neighbour Charley and his son Bernard, Willy spirals into a well of regret, reminiscence, and A scathing indictment of the ultimate failure of the American dream, and the empty pursuit of wealth and success, is a harrowing journey. In creating Willy Loman, his destructively insecure anti-hero, Miller defined his aim as being 'to set forth what happens when a man does not have a grip on the forces of life'.

  • Buy the book

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