Death of a Salesman

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SHORT ANSWER STUDY GUIDE QUESTIONS - Death of a Salesman
Act One

1. Who is Willy Loman?
Willy Loman is a travelling salesman. He has a wife and two sons. He talks to himself a lot. He is almost retired, but he has not been very successful. He seems short-tempered and out of his mind a little. 2. Identify Linda.

Linda is Willy’s wife. She is a wonderful wife and mother. She is always upbeat, supportive and positive. We only know Linda in contrast to Willy. 3. What happened to Willy after he got a little above Yonkers? Willy wasn’t paying attention while he was driving and almost hit a kid. 4. What is Linda's reaction to Willy's complaints about himself?

Linda is patient and encouraging. She tries to find an excuse for him. She cares about Willy and her boys’ well-being. 5. What reason does Willy give that he can't work in New York? He’s familiar with New England and they don’t need him in New York. 6. Identify Biff and Happy.

They are Willy’s sons. Biff is two years older than Happy. Biff has been unsuccessful. He wants to be successful, but he likes working outside on the farm. Biff is well-built but now lacks confidence. Happy is tall, strong and oozes sexuality. He is positive but hides his sense of loss behind his confidence. Happy seems to like to hide his problems. 7. In the first scene with Linda, Willy contradicted himself twice. About what did he contradict himself? “Biff is lazy”… “one thing about Biff, he’s not lazy.” “Windows don’t open on the new car.” But Willy had just opened it that day.

7. What seems to be the problem between Biff and Willy?
Willy has many ideas for how Biff should live his life. Willy thinks Biff is wasting his opportunities. 9. Why doesn't Happy go west with Biff?
He’s actually content with where he is. He’s not honest with his own ideals. 10. What does Biff want from Bill Oliver?
Borrow money to build his own ranch.
11. Why did Biff stop working for Bill Oliver?
Bill Oliver suspected Biff stole a carton of basketballs.
12. Happy says, "I don't know what to do about him [Willy], it's getting embarrassing." To what is he referring, and what does the fact that Happy thinks this way tell you about his character? Willy keeps talking to himself. Happy cares more about his own feelings than the well-being of his father. Happy is not a caring son.

13. Why does Willy talk so much about the car?
Willy must use a car a lot to do his job. A car is one symbol of success. When Biff was younger he often ‘simonized’ (waxed) the car. 14. Where did Biff get the football? What does Willy say about that? He took it from the locker room. At first he says he should return it, but then he says the coach will congratulate you on your initiative.

15. What does Willy admit to Linda about his business? What is her reaction? Willy’s business is not going well. Linda encourages him that next week might be better. 16. Who is The Woman?
A person who worked with Willy, and who he had an ongoing affair with. 17. What does Willy mean, "I'll make it up to you, Linda, I'll --"? What does Linda think he means? He wants to repay Linda for his infidelity. She thinks he wants to earn more money for her.

18. What does Willy want young Bernard to do for Biff?

He wants Bernard to give Biff the answers on the Regent’s exam (state exam, gaokao) 19. What does Willy tell Happy about Ben when Happy asks how Ben "did it"? He just walked into the jungle at 17 and came out at 21 rich. 20. Who is Ben?

Willy’s older brother and successful brother.
21. Who is Charley?
Willy’s friend and neighbor. He’s hardworking and has been more successful than Willy. Willy doesn’t seem to respect Charlie. Bernard is Charlie’s son. 22. Charley says, "To hell with it. When a deposit bottle is broken, you don't get your nickel back." What does he mean? Don’t get so upset over small things. You need to move on.

23. Charley and Willy are playing...
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