Death of a Salesman Act Two - Requiem Summary

The second act begins with Willy and Linda full of hope for their family's future. Willy is going to tell his boss he will not travel anymore and ask him for an advance on his pay to help with the bills. Biff is visiting Bill Oliver, his previous boss, to ask him for a loan of ten to fifteen thousand dollars to start a business with Happy. The boys are so confident about their business plans, that they have asked their father to meet them at a local restaurant for a steak meal.

Linda reminds Willy about the need for the money to pay the insurance payment and the last house payment. Finally, after paying for twenty-five years the house will be theirs free and clear. Willy is happy to pay off the house loan, but he is sad that his home, which once sat almost alone on the block, is now surrounded by apartment buildings.

Willy tries to talk to his boss, Howard, about the changes he wants to make in his job. He tells Howard he just needs to make sixty-five dollars a week to pay his bills. Howard doesn't have a place for him in the main store and tells him the only way they can keep him on is if he travels. Willy asks for fifty dollars a week, but Howard is firm in his position. By this time Willy is becoming more and more desperate, and he asks for forty dollars a week. He reminds Howard of his connection to Howard's father, the original owner of the company, and begins to bang on Howard's desk and shout at him. Howard, to his credit, tries to calm Willy down, to give him some time to collect himself, but in the end Howard fires Willy, telling him needs to take a long rest.

Biff, in the meantime has spent six hours waiting to see Bill Oliver, but to no avail. He watches Bill as he is leaving for the day. In their minds, Willy and Biff have built up a relationship between Biff and Bill, which in fact does not exist. Bill only remembers Biff as the shipping clerk who stole basketballs from him. For some reason, Willy and Biff thought Biff was a salesman for Bill, but that is not true. Biff, in a fit of anger, enters Bill's office and steals his fountain pen, and as he is running away, Biff realizes his life has been a lie. He has always stole from people and had even spent three months in jail for stealing a suit. We also find out Biff did not graduate high school, because he failed math class. He went to see his father in Boston to tell him about his failure, but he found his father in a hotel room with a woman. Biff at this point sees his father as a liar, which is a turning point in his life. He decides to stop trying to please a man who is a fraud. He feels all the lessons of hard work, loyalty, and honesty are nothing but a lie, because his father cheated on his mother. This revelation causes Biff to stop trying and to start to drift through life, this and the fact his father had always told him he should be the boss and Biff couldn't attain that goal.

Happy implores Biff to tell his father he has a lunch date to discuss the business deal with Bill. He wants to make his father happy, but Biff wants to tell his father the truth.

Biff tries to tell Willy the truth, but Willy is in no condition to accept the truth. He is starting to hallucinate again; he had an episode in Howard's office-he thought he was talking to his brother Ben, and then he thought he was with his family getting ready for Biff to play in the big football game, and finally in the restaurant he is hearing the voice of the woman in the hotel room. The boys meet some girls at the restaurant and leave with them. Willy is left behind in a confused state and has to find his own way home. He is still talking to his brother about the twenty-five thousand dollars his family could have from the insurance policy. He thinks this money will solve all the problems for his family.

At home, Linda is angry at her boys for leaving their father behind at the restaurant. She wants them to leave and never return, because of the problems between them and their father. She is especially angry at Biff, for all the problems he seems to cause between himself and Willy. Biff tries to tell Willy the truth about himself. He tells him that he is not a big shot and neither is Willy, they are just people who are trying to earn a living. After a scene in which Willy and Biff tell each other their true feelings, Willy finally feels his son loves him. Willy gets into his car and drives away, never to return home again. Willy Loman has committed suicide.

After the funeral Linda is reluctant to leave her husband's grave. She is disappointed by the low attendance to Willy's funeral. She also tells Willy that she cannot cry for him, because to her he is just away on another business trip. She tells him she has paid off the house and they are finally free from debt. This is bittersweet for her, because now she has to live in the house alone.

This play shows how false expectations, for yourself and your children, can cause more harm than good. Willy thought he should be shown more respect, because he was a superior salesman. He thought Biff should have had a wonderful career, because he was well liked and good at sports. He in the end could not face up to reality and killed himself.

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