Death of a Salesman By Arthur Miller Summary and Analysis Act II: Requiem

Summary

The requiem takes place at Willy's grave. Linda does not understand why none of the people Willy knew bothered to come to the funeral. Happy is angry that Willy committed suicide, while Biff says that Willy "didn't know who he was." Charley tells them that a salesman's life depends upon dreams. Happy is determined to fulfill Willy's dreams, but Biff plans to leave Brooklyn. Linda tells Willy that she keeps waiting for him to come home. She does not understand why he killed himself because of money. According to Linda, they are finally debt-free.

Analysis

It is important to note that Miller begins and ends the play with Linda. The nervous anxiety that Linda feels when calling out for Willy in Act I, Scene 1 parallels the disquieting grief demonstrated at the end when she calls out to him again.

Willy has contradicted his own intentions. Rather than illustrate the fact that he was "well-liked," his unimpressive funeral demonstrates his mediocrity. It is significant that Charley defends Willy's suicide since Willy always felt jealous and threatened by Charley. Charley is Willy's only true friend in the play, and he recognizes Willy's need for acknowledgment and appreciation. Just as he bailed Willy out when he needed money, so Charley bails him out when no one else understands his suicide.

with Charley's assistance, Willy's suicide cannot be justified because it defies his own intentions. Willy believes his suicide will resolve the disorder in his life by assuaging any pain he caused Linda, winning Biff's respect, and demonstrating his popularity as a salesman and individual. In reality, he denies Linda a debt-free husband, Biff a reconciled father, and Happy an improved role model. Thus Willy's refusal to accept life on its own terms results in nothing but disorder and fragmentation for those he loves most.

Glossary

requiem a Mass for one or more deceased persons; any musical service, hymn, or dirge for the dead.

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