1. What is the significance of the way the Loman house is presented when the play begins?
Miller's stage directions specifically require that the salesman's house is overshadowed by tall apartment buildings "on all sides." This symbolizes the way in which Willy and the relatively small life goals he has achieved have been overshadowed by change and development. Not only has he not kept pace with these, they have overwhelmed him. The buildings also symbolize the enormous obstacles an ordinary person must face.
2. Why has Willy unexpectedly returned from his journey?
Willy is exhausted, dispirited, and on the verge of a breakdown. He cannot seem to control his thoughts, or the car, which, he tells Linda, has come close to running off the road several times. He has come to the point where he cannot face the continual long drives associated with his type of sales work.
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