Act 1, Part 2 Notes from Death of a Salesman

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Death of a Salesman Act 1, Part 2

Light rises in the boys' upstairs bedroom, and Biff gets out of bed and walks downstage as if standing near the door of their room and listening down the stairs to Willy's mumbling. Hap tells Biff how Willy has been acting strangely lately, mumbling to himself as if he's talking to Biff, and how he's been having trouble driving. Biff plays it off as nothing, and they reminisce about their younger days in that house and then talk about where their lives are now. Biff, walking around restlessly, admits that he has gone through job after job, but he hasn't been able to find one that sticks, one that seems worthwhile to him. He was happy ranching in Texas until spring came and he felt compelled to head home. He tells Happy, "I've always made a point of not wasting my life, and every time I come back here I know that all I've done is to waste my life." Act 1, Part 2, pg. 11

Topic Tracking: Failure 3

Hap talks about the frustration of working for executives he can physically outmatch, and about having to work his way up. He explains that even though he has his own apartment, car, and plenty of women, he's still dissatisfied. Biff suggests that he and Happy buy a ranch and work it together. Hap thinks it's a great idea, but then his interest shifts back to showing the executives for whom he works that he can beat them at their own game. He wants the kind of respect that his merchandise manager, who makes $52,000 a year, gets when he walks in the store. Hap's already on his way, he swears, because he gets any woman he wants, including the fiancees of the top executives of the company for which he works. But even this is losing its charm for him. Hap also tells Biff that in much the same way that he can't help dallying with women engaged to his superiors, he also can't seem to refuse bribes at work. Biff admits that he doesn't run around chasing women anymore because he's looking for someone steady, like his mother, but he takes very little notice of Hap's confession of taking bribes. It doesn't even make a dent with Biff.

Topic Tracking: Dishonesty 3

While Hap talks, Biff decides to meet with Bill Oliver, a former employer who once told Biff to come to him for help if he ever needed it. Biff believes that Oliver will loan him enough money to buy a ranch, and Hap encourages Biff to ask for it because Oliver liked Biff; Willy had taught them that being well liked is the key to success in business. Biff worries that Oliver might still believe that he stole a carton of basketballs, which is why he quit working for Oliver. He had to leave before Oliver could fire him for stealing.

Topic Tracking: Dishonesty 4

As Biff and Hap are discussing Oliver, Willy starts talking downstairs like he's having a conversation. Biff gets mad at his father because he knows that Linda can hear him talking like a lunatic downstairs, and Hap asks Biff not to leave again because he doesn't know how to handle Willy anymore. The boys, disturbed by their father's behavior, get back in bed and try to go back to sleep. The light on their room fades.

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