Death of a Salesman By Arthur Miller Summary and Analysis Act II: Scene 14

Summary

Willy is overwhelmed by Biff's reaction at the end of Scene 13. He is amazed that Biff cares for him. Everyone goes to bed, but Willy lingers because Ben has reappeared. Ben reminds him of the $20,000 insurance policy. Willy is convinced that Biff will respect him even more if he commits suicide in order to gain the policy. Willy drives away.

Linda, Biff, Happy, Charley, and Bernard gather together at Willy's grave.

Analysis

Willy finally achieves a sense of peace and order in Scene 14 because he knows Biff loves him. He is overwhelmed by the fact that his estranged son wept for him. For the first time in the play, Willy has received the attention and respect that he desires. But, even though Biff cries to his father because he can no longer pretend, Willy still tries to manipulate reality. Biff's reaction gives Willy the order he has been seeking, but it also compels him to create an even more desirable future. Willy believes he has been given another opportunity to achieve success now that he is reconciled to Biff. He can make Biff love him even more by taking charge of the future and leaving him the insurance money.

It is symbolic that Ben convinces Willy to commit suicide. Ben transforms suicide into a final, brief opportunity that must be seized. In the immediacy of the situation, fearing he will lose this chance and fail yet again, Willy denies his own son's statement, "There'll be no pity for you, you hear it? No pity!"

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

How did Willy’s brother Ben make his fortune?




Quiz