Death of a Salesman Act 1, Part 7
Ben and Willy meet for the first time since Willy was almost four years old. Willy wants him to divulge the secret of his success, to tell him what happened after he left to follow their father to Alaska. Ben tells him that instead of going to Alaska, he ended up in Africa. Ben says, "when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich." Act 1, Part 7, pg. 33 After Ben tells his story, he tries to leave, but Willy calls young Biff and Hap onstage and asks Ben to tell them about their grandfather - anything else to make him stay longer. Ben seems to be in a hurry to leave. Ben tells the boys about how their grandfather made and sold flutes. He would load his family into their wagon and travel westward from Boston to sell the flutes he made. Ben points out that their grandfather was such a great inventor and salesman, that he could make more in a week than a man like Willy could make in a lifetime.
Willy insists that he's bringing his boys up to be well rounded and well liked, and he makes Biff box with his uncle to prove it. As they spar, Ben trips Biff and stands over him with the point of his umbrella near Biff's eye. He tells Biff, "Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You'll never get out of the jungle that way." Act 1, Part 7, pg. 34 Youthful Linda, spooked by the whole display, repeatedly asks why Biff has to fight with his uncle, but Willy doesn't see anything bizarre in it, because he is too busy trying to impress Ben. In an attempt to prove that he has the pioneer spirit and the ingenuity of his father, Willy sends the boys to a nearby construction site to steal sand so they can rebuild their stoop immediately. Charley walks over and warns Willy that the cops are watching out for the boys because they've already stolen lumber. Willy bragged about their theft, although he gave the boys a mock lecture for stealing. Ben seems as proud as Willy that the boys are fearless. When Bernard reports that the watchman is chasing Biff, Willy insists that Biff wasn't stealing anything -- he was doing nothing wrong. Linda, worried, leaves to look for Biff.
Charley complains about business in New England and Willy insists that he has no problems selling in New England because he has the right contacts. Charley sarcastically congratulates Willy and then leaves. Ben begins to leave again, but Willy asks him to stay and talk about their father because Willy was a baby when he left; not having a chance to talk with his dad left him feeling "kind of temporary about [him]self." Act 1, Part 7, pg. 36 Ben promises to visit on his way back to Africa, and he assures Willy that he's teaching his sons the right things. Ben caps it all off with his words of wisdom about how he went into the jungle at twenty-one and came out rich, and then Ben walks around the right corner of the house and disappears.