Death of a Salesman Act 1, Part 3
As Willy roots around in the kitchen, he is dimly lit while the apartments in the background fade away and the whole house is covered with leaves. Flute music plays softly and sweetly. Sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of milk, Willy's mumbling grows louder until it's directed at a specific point off-stage and he's looking through the invisible kitchen wall. He's no longer mumbling. His voice is loud like he's conversing with someone. He warns Biff about making promises to girls because he is too young to be serious about girls; he seems impressed that Biff is so popular that the girls pay for the dates. Willy tells Biff and Hap that they did a good job polishing the Chevy. Young Biff and Hap walk onstage from the direction Willy was looking, and they ask for the surprise Willy had promised, which turns out to be a punching bag so they could improve their timing. Happy keeps asking if Willy has noticed that he's lost weight. Willy dismisses him with an inattentive comment and continues talking to Biff. Biff shows Willy the new football he "borrowed" from the locker room to work on passing, and Willy laughingly tells him to return it. But when Hap suggests that Willy should be unhappy that Biff stole the ball, Willy justifies Biff's action by saying that the coach would "probably congratulate [Biff] on [his] initiative" Act 1, Part 3, pg. 18 instead of being angry about the theft because the coach likes Biff.
They talk about Willy's trip and Willy tells them that he will have his own business someday that will be bigger than Charley's, their neighbor, because Willy is well liked whereas Charley is not. Willy tells the boys that he met the mayor of Providence while he was away on his last trip. He promises to take the boys along with him in the summer so they can see New England, the place where Willy is well known and well liked.
As Biff practices passing the football, he and Willy talk about how important Biff is socially since he was made captain of the football team. Willy is proud that his son is well liked. Biff, taking Willy's hand, promises to make a touchdown for Willy at the next game. As they are talking about it, Bernard, Charley's nerdy son, enters the front of the stage and comes over to remind Biff that they are supposed to study together that day; Biff is close to flunking math. Willy makes fun of Bernard when he suggests that Biff might not graduate because of his grades. Willy doesn't believe that anyone would fail a kid who has scholarships to three universities. When Bernard leaves, Willy tells the boys that because Bernard is not well liked, he will never make it in the business world despite his good grades. He says, "the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates a personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want." Act 1, Part 3, pg. 21
He brags more about how well known he is until a youthful Linda appears. She asks Willy if the Chevy drives well and he claims it is the greatest car ever built. The boys take the laundry from their mother to hang it up for her, and then Biff walks through the wall-line of the kitchen to the doorway at the back, and orders the friends he has waiting in the basement to sweep out the furnace room. Willy and Linda are both impressed by the way Biff's friends obey him. Linda asks Willy how much he sold on his trip and he tells her first that he sold $1200; she figures out that his commission from the sale would be $212. He hesitates at the figure, and then says that he sold $200, making his commission only $70. While Linda adds up the total of their monthly payments, they move through the wall-line and into the kitchen. She realizes that they owe $120 in payments on their appliances and for the Chevy's new carburetor. Willy insists that he shouldn't have to pay for the carburetor because Chevy automobiles are such pieces of junk, that manufacturing them should be prohibited. Pressured by how much money he owes, Willy worries that business won't pick up. While Linda is in the kitchen darning stockings, he moves to the edge of the stage. He tells her that he'll go to Hartford the next week because, he says, "I'm very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don't seem to take to me." Act 1, Part 3, pg. 23 Willy feels like people are either laughing at him or ignoring him. He thinks that maybe it's because he's fat -- he'd overheard some man call him a walrus and smacked him in the face for it. Linda assures him that he is a handsome man, the handsomest man in the world to her. Through her words of reassurance, Willy hears the sound of another woman's laughter, but he keeps talking to Linda. Music plays softly and seemingly far away as he tells Linda that he worries about not providing a life for her and the boys. As he talks, the other woman is dimly seen to the left of the house and she is dressing.