Death of a Salesman By Arthur Miller Summary and Analysis Act II: Scene 4

Summary

Scene 4 continues in the past. Willy, Linda, and Happy are preparing to go to Ebbet's Field, to watch Biff play football. Willy frantically searches for the pennants while Happy and Bernard argue over who will carry Biff's football helmet. Biff plans to score a touchdown for Willy. Charley comes over, pretending he is unaware that today is Biff's game. Charley's behavior infuriates Willy.

Analysis

Willy is free falling into his memories of the past. He is moving directly from one memory to the next in a desperate attempt to deny the present and create order from his disordered life. He has been unhappy with his lack of success, but he could cope with that by exaggerating his sales and focusing on better times. Now having lost his job, he is in a difficult situation because he will be forced to admit failure to Linda and the boys. This prompts the memory merry-go-round that Willy is on during Scenes 3 and 4. First he goes to Ben for solace, but that does not work. He is forced to acknowledge that he gave up his one opportunity for great success.

Rather than dwell on the idea that he is a failure, Willy then goes back to his favorite memories of Biff. As his son prepares for the Ebbet's Field game, Biff symbolizes the greatness Willy still believes is possible to achieve. Imminent greatness, along with the fact that Biff respects him as a loving father and authority figure, works to create an ideal fantasy. Willy has found the order he desires, and he can keep it if he just remains in this moment in time.

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