Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Analysis of Chunk 5

Willy lives on false hopes and, and in the morning he is happy with the thought that Biff is finally going to go into business and make it big. Linda tells Willy about the expenses around the house that need to be paid, including the broken refrigerator, and Willy says, "Once in my life I'd like to own something outright before it's broken! I'm always in a race with the junkyard." Willy is a man who cannot deal with the reality of the modern era.

Willy's boss, Howard, fires him that same morning. Willy responds with a long monologue about why he became a salesman. He talks about an old salesmen he once knew: "…when he died - and by the way he died the death of a salesmen, in his green velvet slippers … hundreds of salesmen and buyers were at his funeral." This was where Willy's illusions of becoming a salesman began. Willy tells Howard, "I put thirty-four years into this firm, Howard, and now I can't pay my insurance! You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away-a man is not a piece of fruit!"

Willy makes his way to Charlie's office where he meets Bernard. Bernard is off to argue a case in the US Supreme Court. Willy is awed by Bernard's success and asks him, "What-what's the secret? … How-how did you? Why didn't he ever catch on?" Willy is talking about Biff, and it pains him to see a young man like Bernard so successful. Bernard talks about how Biff changed after visiting Willy the summer of Biff's senior year. Bernard says, "I've often thought of how strange it was that I knew he'd given up his life." The reader does not find out until the next chunk what the root of Biff's problem is.

Willy goes into the office and talks to Charlie. He mentions that Howard fired him that day. Charlie says, "Willy, when are going to realize that them things don't mean anything? You named him Howard, but you can't sell that." Willy responds, "I've always tried to think otherwise, I guess. I always felt that if a man was impressive, and well liked, that nothing-" Charlie cuts him off, and it is here at this moment that Willy begins his tragic fall.

Willy tells Charlie, "Funny, y'know? After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive."