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Death of a salesman

By Luis Allen,2014-06-18 09:24
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Death of a salesman

WILLY (suddenly conscious of Biff, turns and looks up at him,

    then begins picking up the packages of seeds in confusion.):

    Where the hell is that seed? (Indignantly.) You can’t see nothing out here! They boxed in the whole goddam neighborhood!

    BIFF: There are people all around here. Don’t you realize that? WILLY: I’m busy. Don’t bother me.

    BIFF (taking the hoe from Willy): I’m saying good-by to you, Pop. (Willy looks at him, silent, unable to move.) I’m not coming back any more.

    WILLY: You’re not going to see Oliver tomorrow?

    BIFF: I’ve got no appointment, Dad.

    WILLY: He put his arm around you, and you’ve got no appointment? BIFF: Pop, get this now, will you? Everytime I’ve left it’s been a fight that sent me out of here. Today I realized something

    about myself and I tried to explain it to you and I I think I’m just not smart enough to make any sense out of it for you. To hell with whose fault it is or anything like that. (He takes

    Willy’s arm.) Let’s just wrap it up, heh? Come on in, we’ll tell Mom. (He gently tries to pull Willy to left.)

    WILLY (frozen, immobile, with guilt in his voice): No, I don’t want to see her.

    BIFF: Come on! (He pulls again, and Willy tries to pull away.)

    WILLY (highly nervous): No, no, I don’t want to see her. BIFF (tries to look into Willy’s face, as if to find the answer there): Why don’t you want to see her?

    WILLY (more harshly now): Don’t bother me, will you? BIFF: What do you mean, you don’t want to see her? You don’t want them calling you yellow, do you? This isn’t your fault; it’s me, I’m a bum. Now come inside! (Willy strains to get away.) Did you hear what I said to you?

    (Willy pulls away and quickly goes by himself into the house.

    Biff follows.)

    LINDA (to Willy): Did you plant, dear?

    BIFF (at the door, to Linda). All right, we had it out. I’m going and I’m not writing any more.

    LINDA (going to Willy in the kitchen): I think that’s the best way, dear. ‘Cause there’s no use drawing it out, you’ll just never get along.

    (Willy doesn’t respond.)

    BIFF: People ask where I am and what I’m doing, you don’t know, and you don’t care. That way it’ll be off your mind and you can start brightening up again. All right? That clears it,

    doesn’t it? (Willy is silent, and Biff goes to him.) You gonna wish me luck, scout? (He extends his hand.) What do you say?

LINDA: Shake his hand, Willy.

    WILLY (turning to her, seething with hurt): There’s no necessity

    to mention the pen at all, y’know.

    BIFF (gently): I’ve got no appointment, Dad. WILLY (erupting fiercely). He put his arm around... ?

    BIFF: Dad, you’re never going to see what I am, so what’s the use

    of arguing? If I strike oil I’ll send you a check. Meantime forget

    I’m alive.

    WILLY (to Linda): Spite, see?

    BIFF: Shake hands, Dad.

    WILLY: Not my hand.

    BIFF: I was hoping not to go this way.

    WILLY: Well, this is the way you’re going. Good-by. (Biff looks at him a moment, then turns sharply and goes to the

    stairs.)

    WILLY (stops him with): May you rot in hell if you leave this

    house!

    BIFF (turning): Exactly what is it that you want from me?

    WILLY: I want you to know, on the train, in the mountains, in

    the valleys, wherever you go, that you cut down your life for

    spite!

    BIFF: No, no.

    WILLY: Spite, spite, is the word of your undoing! And when

    you’re down and out, remember what did it. When you’re rotting

    somewhere beside the railroad tracks, remember, and

    don’t you dare blame it on me!

    BIFF: I’m not blaming it on you!

    WILLY: I won’t take the rap for this, you hear? (Happy comes down the stairs and stands on the bottom step,

    watching.)

    BIFF: That’s just what I’m telling you!

    WILLY (sinking into a chair at a table, with full accusation):

    You’re trying to put a knife in me — don’t think I don’t know

    what you’re doing!

    BIFF: All right, phony! Then let’s lay it on the line. (He whips the

    rubber tube out of his pocket and puts it on the table.)

    HAPPY: You crazy...

    LINDA: Biff! (She moves to grab the hose, but Biff holds it down

    with his hand.)

    BIFF: Leave it there! Don’t move it!

    WILLY (not looking at it): What is that?

    BIFF: You know goddam well what that is.

    WILLY (caged, wanting to escape): I never saw that.

    BIFF: You saw it. The mice didn’t bring it into the cellar! What is

this supposed to do, make a hero out of you? This supposed to

    make me sorry for you?

    WILLY: Never heard of it.

    BIFF: There’ll be no pity for you, you hear it? No pity!

    WILLY (to Linda): You hear the spite!

    BIFF: No, you’re going to hear the truth — what you are and what I am!

    LINDA: Stop it!

    WILLY: Spite!

    HAPPY (coming down toward Biff): You cut it now!

    BIFF (to Happy): The man don’t know who we are! The man is gonna know! (To Willy) We never told the truth for ten minutes

    in this house!

    HAPPY: We always told the truth!

    BIFF (turning on him): You big blow, are you the assistant buyer?

    You’re one of the two assistants to the assistant, aren’t you? HAPPY: Well, I’m practically —

    BIFF: You’re practically full of it! We all are! And I’m through with it. (To Willy.) Now hear this, Willy, this is me.

    WILLY: I know you!

    BIFF: You know why I had no address for three months? I stole a

    suit in Kansas City and I was in jail. (To Linda, who is sobbing.)

    Stop crying. I’m through with it. (Linda turns away from them, her hands covering her face.)

    WILLY: I suppose that’s my fault!

    BIFF: I stole myself out of every good job since high school!

    WILLY: And whose fault is that?

    BIFF: And I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of

    hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody! That’s whose fault it is!

    WILLY: I hear that!

    LINDA: Don’t, Biff!

    BIFF: It’s goddam time you heard that! I had to be boss big shot in two weeks, and I’m through with it.

    WILLY: Then hang yourself! For spite, hang yourself!

    BIFF: No! Nobody’s hanging himself, Willy! I ran down eleven flights with a pen in my hand today. And suddenly I stopped,

    you hear me? And in the middle of that office building, do you

    hear this? I stopped in the middle of that building and I saw the sky. I saw the things that I love in this world. The work

    and the food and time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen

    and said to myself, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why

    am I trying to become what I don’t want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself,

when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I

    know who I am! Why can’t I say that, Willy? (He tries to make Willy face him, but Willy pulls away and moves to the left.)

    WILLY (with hatred, threateningly): The door of your life is wide

    open!

    BIFF: Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you! WILLY (turning on him now in an uncontrolled outburst): I am

    not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!

    (Biff starts for Willy, but is blocked by Happy. In his fury, Biff

    seems on the verge of attacking his father.)

    BIFF: I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you. You

    were never anything but a hard-working drummer who landed

    in the ash can like all the rest of them! I’m one dollar an hour, Willy I tried seven states and couldn’t raise it. A buck an hour! Do you gather my meaning? I’m not bringing home any prizes any more, and you’re going to stop waiting for me to bring

    them home!

    WILLY (directly to Biff): You vengeful, spiteful mut!

    (Biff breaks from Happy. Willy, in fright, starts up the stairs.

    Biff grabs him.)

    BIFF (at the peak of his fury): Pop, I’m nothing! I’m nothing, Pop. Can’t you understand that? There’s no spite in it any more. I’m just what I am, that’s all.

    (Biffs fury has spent itself, and he breaks down, sobbing, holding

    on to Willy, who dumbly fumbles for Biff’s face.) WILLY (astonished): What’re you doing? What’re you doing? (To Linda.) Why is he crying?

    BIFF (crying, broken): Will you let me go, for Christ’s sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?

    (Struggling to contain himself, he pulls away and moves

    to the stairs.) I’ll go in the morning. Put him put him to bed. (Exhausted, Biff moves up the stairs to his room.)

    WILLY (after a long pause, astonished, elevated): Isn’t that — isn’t that remarkable? Biff — he likes me!

    LINDA: He loves you, Willy!

    HAPPY (deeply moved): Always did, Pop.

    WILLY: Oh, Biff! (Staring wildly.) He cried! Cried to me. (He is

    choking with his love, and now cries out his promise.) That boy

     that boy is going to be magnificent! (Ben appears in the light

    just outside the kitchen.)

    BEN: Yes, outstanding, with twenty thousand behind him.

    LINDA (sensing the racing of his mind, fearfully, carefully): Now

    come to bed, Willy. It’s all settled now.

    WILLY (finding it difficult not to rush out of the house): Yes, we’ll

sleep. Come on. Go to sleep, Hap.

    BEN: And it does take a great kind of a man to crack the jungle.

    (In accents of dread, Ben’s idyllic music starts up.) HAPPY (his arm around Linda): I’m getting married, Pop, don’t forget it. I’m changing everything. I’m gonna run that department before the year is up. You’ll see, Mom. (He kisses her.)

    BEN: The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy.

    (Willy turns, moves, listening to Ben.)

    LINDA: Be good. You’re both good boys, just act that way, that’s all.

    HAPPY: ‘Night, Pop. (He goes upstairs.)

    LINDA (to Willy): Come, dear.

    BEN (with greater force): One must go in to fetch a diamond out.

    WILLY (to Linda, as he moves slowly along the edge of kitchen,

    toward the door): I just want to get settled down, Linda. Let me

    sit alone for a little.

    LINDA (almost uttering her fear): I want you upstairs.

    WILLY (taking her in his arms): In a few minutes, Linda. I

    couldn’t sleep right now. Go on, you look awful tired. (He kisses her.)

    BEN: Not like an appointment at all. A diamond is rough and

    hard to the touch.

    WILLY: Go on now. I’ll be right up.

    LINDA: I think this is the only way, Willy.

    WILLY: Sure, it’s the best thing.

    BEN: Best thing!

    WILLY: The only way. Everything is gonna be go on, kid, get to bed. You look so tired.

    LINDA: Come right up.

    WILLY: Two minutes.

    (Linda goes into the living room, then reappears in her bedroom.

    Willy moves just outside the kitchen door.)

    WILLY: Loves me. (Wonderingly.) Always loved me. Isn’t that a remarkable thing? Ben, he’ll worship me for it!

    BEN (with promise): It’s dark there, but full of diamonds. WILLY: Can you imagine that magnificence with twenty thousand

    dollars in his pocket?

    LINDA (calling from her room): Willy! Come up!

    WILLY (calling into the kitchen): Yes! Yes. Coming! It’s very smart, you realize that, don’t you, sweetheart? Even Ben sees it. I gotta go, baby. ‘By! ‘By! (Going over to Ben, almost dancing.) Imagine? When the mail comes he’ll be ahead of Bernard again!

    BEN: A perfect proposition all around.

    WILLY: Did you see how he cried to me? Oh, if I could kiss him, Ben!

    BEN: Time, William, time!

    WILLY: Oh, Ben, I always knew one way or another we were gonna make it, Biff and I!

    BEN (looking at his watch): The boat. We’ll be late. (He moves

    slowly off into the darkness.)

    WILLY (elegiacally, turning to the house): Now when you kick off, boy, I want a seventy-yard boot, and get right down the field under the ball, and when you hit, hit low and hit hard, because it’s important, boy. (He swings around and faces the audience.)

    There’s all kinds of important people in the stands, and the

    first thing you know... (Suddenly realizing he is alone.) Ben! Ben, where do I... ? (He makes a sudden movement of search.) Ben, how do I... ?

    LINDA (calling): Willy, you coming up?

    WILLY (uttering a gasp of fear, whirling about as if to quiet her): Sh! (He turns around as if to find his way; sounds, faces, voices, seem to be swarming in upon him and he flicks at them, crying.) Sh! Sh! (Suddenly music, faint and high, stops him. It rises in intensity, almost to an unbearable scream. He goes up and down on his toes, and rushes off around the house.) Shhh! LINDA: Willy?

    (There is no answer. Linda waits. Biff gets up off his bed. He is still in his clothes. Happy sits up. Biff stands listening.) LINDA (with real fear): Willy, answer me! Willy!

    (There is the sound of a car starting and moving away at full speed.)

    LINDA: No!

    BIFF (rushing down the stairs): Pop!

    (As the car speeds off, the music crashes down in a frenzy of sound, which becomes the soft pulsation of a single cello string. Biff slowly returns to his bedroom. He and Happy gravely don their jackets. Linda slowly walks out of her room. The music has developed into a dead march. The leaves of day are appearing over everything. Charley and Bernard, somberly dressed, appear and knock on the kitchen door. Biff and Happy slowly descend the stairs to the kitchen as Charley and Bernard enter. All stop a moment when Linda, in clothes of mourning, bearing a little bunch of roses, comes through the draped doorway into the kitchen. She goes to Charley and takes his arm. Now all move toward the audience, through the wall-line of the kitchen. At the limit of the apron, Linda lays down the flowers, kneels, and sits back on her heels. All stare down at the grave.)

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