Death of a Salesman Objects/Places
Studebaker: The Studebaker is the car in which Willy kills himself. His first obvious lapse in reality is when he admits that he thought that he was driving the Chevy the whole day, when actually he was driving the Studebaker.
Chevy: The Chevy is the car Willy had when Biff was in high school. Willy remembers a day when the boys were waxing the car after he returned from a trip. His comments about the Chevy, first that it’s the greatest car ever built, then that they shouldn’t be allowed to manufacture such junk, show his tendency to contradict himself.
Football: Biff stole the football from the locker room because the coach told him to work on his passing. Willy tells him to return it, but then says that the coach would congratulate Biff on his initiative instead of being angry that he stole it.
Fountain Pen: Biff steals the fountain pen from Bill Oliver’s desk when he goes to borrow money to start a business. He can’t keep from taking it, and it ruins his chance to get the loan.
Rubber Piping: Linda tells Biff and Happy about the rubber piping she found in the basement with the attachment that fits around the nipple on the water heater’s gas pipe. Willy’s been trying to kill himself with it, and although she often takes it from the basement while he’s gone, she always puts it back before he returns, because she doesn’t want to insult him by confronting him about it. Biff takes it from the basement and later confronts Willy with the piping before Willy kills himself in the Studebaker.
Building Supplies: Biff and Happy stole building supplies from a construction site so that Willy could build a new stoop. He pretended to scold them when they stole lumber, but he really was proud of their theft, and his attitude encourages their deviant behavior.
University of Virginia sneakers: Biff printed 'University of Virginia' on a pair of sneakers he had because that’s where he wanted to go play ball in college. The shoes show up in Willy’s memory at the first mention of Biff having trouble with math. Later, Bernard tells Willy that he knew Biff had given up his life when he threw those shoes into the furnace after he got back from visiting Willy in Boston.
Frank’s Chop House : Frank’s Chop House is the restaurant where Willy met Biff and Hap for dinner. Biff told Willy about the incident with Bill Oliver while they were in the restaurant, and the disappointment sent Willy reeling back to the past. Biff and Hap left Willy babbling to himself in the bathroom of the restaurant, and that was the final straw for Linda. After that, she tells both the boys to leave and not to come back.
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Willy Loman failed as a parent. In the play, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, this protagonist’s success is marred by his sons’ failures. In his attempts to sift through his past and realize the cause of such a letdown, Willy comes to the conclusion that his own actions are to blame. When his son, Biff, stumbles upon his secret woman, Biff is crushed and loses all respect. It is this incident that clears all doubts in the play and serves as an illuminating incident, throwing light on the once ambiguous issue and connecting all the dots.
This event also functions as a casement, opening Willy’s eyes to his true purpose in life and preventing his death as a salesman. Willy’s nostalgia about his son’s flourishing past is brought to a sudden halt when he realizes that Biff is struggling in life now because of him. Biff was a thriving football captain: the whole team followed his every order. He had three college scholarships waiting for him after his high school graduation. However, his devotion to football and his ego prevented him from passing math.
To amend such an issue, Biff decided to ask his dad to convince his teacher. When Biff goes to Boston to request this from his dad, he discovers his dad’s affair. It is this event that kills Biff on the inside, making him lose all his determination and hope for his future. Having revered his dad at all times and worked hard to be “well-liked” in his eyes, Biff’s perceptions transform altogether about the “phony little fake” (Miller 92). With no idol to look up to, and nobody to impress, Biff drops all his goals and stops being Biff.
This incident caused unrest in his heart and made him unstable enough that he starting succumbing to theft in each of his jobs, to merely fill his void. All through the novel, the readers and Willy are unsure about Biff and his sudden decline, but the account of this episode elucidates all doubts. This serves as an illuminating incident because it is essential in the plot and without the mention of this incident, the book’s plot would be obscure and incomplete.
It also serves as an illuminating incident because it explains the theme of the play, thereby functioning as a casement. Willy has worked as a salesman for thirty-five years, but in vain. He left no significant legacy; in fact, he only ruined his son’s life. When Willy comes to this resolution, he is distraught about his past and unsure about his future. Ultimately, he realizes that sales was never his forte; rather, he always enjoyed working with tools and that a farm is his niche. Thus, when Willy died, he died as a armer, having planted seeds in his house. These seeds grew the foundations for Biff and Happy, as they were now determined to learn from their mistakes and leave behind their own legacy. Had Willy not remembered about his affair and its consequences on his dearest son, Biff, he would have stayed the same, fighting to keep his salesman job and getting in car accidents, thanks to his trances with nature. He truly loved the outdoors and never came to this resolution until his illuminating incident.
Overall, this episode serves the author’s purpose of showing that one must do what one likes, instead of fuelling one’s greed for money. As a whole, Willy Loman’s epiphany moment lucidly finishes the plot and opens the meaning of the work. He realizes that he had no positive impact in anybody’s life, but rather hurt his son Biff’s chances for success, just because of his affair. Thus, he learns from this illuminating incident, changes his lifestyle, and becomes a farmer to sow seeds of success for his sons!
Author: Brandon Johnson
Death of a Salesman Essay
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