Death of a Salesman Act 2, Part 1
Happy music plays and then fades as the curtain rises. Willy sits at the kitchen table with his coffee. He is cheerful and optimistic as Linda tells him that Biff and Hap were bright and hopeful as well before they left. Things are looking up for the Loman family. Willy builds his bright dreams of how life is going to change after today -- they're going to go into business together and Willy and Linda will move out to the country and build two guest houses so the boys can bring their families for the weekend. While Willy is dreaming out loud, Linda reminds him to ask Wagner, his boss, for an advance to pay Willy's insurance premium. While she ticks off the list of expenses they've had recently that have put them a little behind financially, Willy gripes about the quality of appliances and automobiles, and how everything breaks just when it's paid for. He goes on a tirade about the refrigerator. He says that they should've bought one that was well advertised because Charley bought a General Electric refrigerator and has never had a problem with it. He interrupts Linda before she can remind him that the Hastings refrigerator they bought had the biggest ads in the paper. Linda reminds him that they've got one more payment to make before their house is paid for, and Willy points out the irony that when it's paid for, there will be only the two of them to live in it. He's gathering his coat and getting ready to go meet Wagner about a New York job and an advance, when Linda tells him that Biff and Hap want him to meet them for dinner at Frank's Chop House. He's so excited that his sons want to treat him to dinner that his enthusiasm for the day is boosted and life looks full of promise. He can't help but be successful today, so he goes to meet Wagner. He comes back in one last time because he forgot a handkerchief and he notices Linda mending her silk stockings. He tells her to quit mending those while he's in the house because it makes him nervous, so she hides them as he leaves.
As Willy disappears offstage, Biff calls to make sure his mother told Willy about their dinner plans. She is excited to tell him that Willy must have moved the rubber piping, but Biff tells her that he took it the night before. She seems disappointed because she thought that if Willy had moved it himself, that meant that the danger had passed. Because Biff moved it, she's still a little uneasy about Willy's state of mind. Yet Willy was in such good spirits that morning, she thinks things are changing and that life is getting better for all of them. Biff tells her he's waiting to see Bill Oliver, and before they get off the phone, she tells him to be good to his father at dinner because it will save his life. In the middle of Linda's speech, Wagner rolls a small typewriter table with a wire-recording machine on it onto the left forefront of the stage and plugs it in. Light fades from Linda and rises on Wagner as he threads the machine.