Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller: Summary

Willy Loman though had a very good skill in carpentry adopts a job as a salesman so as to fulfill his American dream. He is a father of two sons, Biff and Happy and has a wife Linda. He returns from a business trip and concludes that now he cannot travel more for the sake of the business.

Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

His wife Linda suggests him to ask his boss to give him a local job at the headquarter. Willy mistakenly takes him as an important salesman of his office so he will certainly get the local job.

When Biff comes from his farm work, Willy reminds him that he could do better than this in the field of business. He further tells him that he is wasting his time and talents. But, Willy does not have any faith on his other son Happy and hates him for his failure. On the same night, Willy is heard talking to imaginary people and even shouting to them. Because of his shout, Biff and Happy wake up and are worried about their father as he had never behaved like that before. Biff thinking that he should not leave his father alone, plans to borrow loan from his former employer Bill to start a business.

Linda tells her sons that they are having a difficult time financially. She further states that Willy has been attempting suicide. Meanwhile, Willy argues with Biff for being so reckless, but Happy immediately interrupts informing Willy that next morning Biff has planned to see his former boss, Bill. Willy is now happy and goes to sleep. All hopes for the better morning: Willy is hopeful in getting local job and Biff expects to get a loan to start a new business.

The next morning, all their hopes are shattered. Willy overconfidently approaches his boss and tells him all his problems in travelling for the sake of business. Instead of providing him with the local job, the boss fired him. He is now jobless. Frustrated by the news, he goes to see his sons at a restaurant. Biff is sure that Bill would not see him and there is no question of getting a business loan from him as he had stolen a pen from him some time ago. Willy reaches there and wishes to hear a good news from Biff, but Biff sadly tells him that he could not get the loan. Biff realizes that he and his family have been lying to each other. They are living in the illusion. They leave their father at the restaurant who is busy in dreaming and reliving the past.

When Biff and Happy return home, their mother is mad at them for being so careless about their father and leaving him alone at the restaurant. An argument starts among the family. No one is ready to listen to the other, but Biff tells that he cannot live according to his father's expectation which is just a failure. He tells them all that they are living in a lie. They are running away from the ground reality. They fear to face the bitter truth about their life.

Willy realizes that though Biff is a failure like him, he loves him much. Distressed and frustrated, he decides to commit suicide so that the insurance money could be some use to Biff to start a new business. Within a few minutes, he commits suicide. Linda feels so strange that though her husband is well liked by all employees why no-one attends his funeral. Biff feels sorry for his mother who is still living in an illusion. He decides to be honest to himself, but, unfortunately Happy wants to follow the footprint of his father.

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