The Death of a Salesman . Act II: Dream, Self-Deception and Capitalist Reality. Starting Questions . Does Act II show Willy going insane? Is he a complete failure, or does he gain any self-knowledge or self-confirmation? . Outline. Plot Summary
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Act II: Dream, Self-Deception and Capitalist Reality
“Like a young god. Hercules. . . And the sun, the sun all around him.” (1228)
unable to face his own failure, Biff’s problem, the past conflict.
blind to her husband’s weaknesses and failures.
e.g. “I’m gonna retire you for life” (1215); “I’m gonna get married”; “I’m gonna win it for him” (1264).
faces reality -- always a shipping clerk; habitual theft (steals things out of his failures)
2. Linda vs. Biff and Happy; the three’s plans.
Memories can serve as an escape, if Willy chooses to dwell on the good part.
But for Willy, facing reality is inevitable, because he
(1236) “Oh, Ben, how did you do it? What is the answer? Did you wind up the Alaska deal already?”
Ben vs. Willy – What Willy builds with the firm (name and connections) has no substance (1236-37)
Biff’s last game – Charley: not important (1238)
3. (1249-51-52) the pen & Biff’s attempts to tell Willy that he is not a salesman, is not hired by Oliver, takes a pen, has no appointment, and is no good.
-- Willy cannot stops the past (the woman’s, operator’s and pager’s voices) from emerging in his mind.
-- “Open the door.” He goes to the bathroom to face his past.
(1262 -) Willy’s last action ( Ben)
A combination of realistic concern and dream.
-- (1258) big funeral
-- The jungle is dark but full of diamonds.
-- The boat