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Glengarry Glen Ross

David Mamet

Act Two, from Lingk's exit to the finish

Act Two, from Lingk's entrance to Lingk's exit

Important Quotations Explained

Summary

Roma is furious that his sale has just been ruined. He lets loose a stream of invective directed at Williamson. Roma tells Williamson that he plans to go directly to Mitch and Murray to get him fired. He tells Williamson never to say anything to a customer before knowing what approach the situation requires. Roma finishes his tirade and goes into the inner office with Baylen.

Levene reiterates Roma's assertion that one should never speak without knowing the situation. He alters the assertion slightly, saying that if Williamson is going to "make something up" he needs to be sure it will actually help. Williamson asks Levene how he knows that he made anything up; he had in fact been lying to Lingk, as he had not taken his contract to the bank yet, but Levene could not have known that unless he had committed the break-in and seen the contract on Williamson's desk.

Williamson tells Levene that if he does not confess what he has done with the leads, then he is going to turn Levene in. Levene tries to deny the crime, but as Williamson heads to the inner office to talk to Baylen, Levene breaks down and admits that he and Moss sold the leads to Jerry Graff.

Levene tries to salvage the situation. He tells Williamson that committing the robbery restored his confidence, and now he will be an excellent salesman again, as proven by his sale to the Nyborgs. He suggests to Williamson that the two of them can work out some kind of deal. Levene offers him the $2,500 cash he made from the robbery. Levene further offers him twenty percent of his commissions for as long as he remains with the company. After a moment's nervous hesitation, he ups the offer to fifty percent.

Williamson tells Levene that his sales are worthless: Bruce and Harriett Nyborg are notorious deadbeats. Their check will not clear. They just like talking to salesmen. Williamson tells Levene that he should have known from seeing the way the Nyborgs lived that they could not afford $82,000 of property, and that Levene must have been deluding himself to think otherwise.

Levene has nothing left to bargain with. Williamson goes into his office to talk to the detective. Roma comes out of the inner office. Not knowing what has just transpired, he starts flattering Levene. Roma tells Levene that they are the last of a dying breed of real men. Roma begins to suggest that the two of them should work together.

Baylen calls Levene into the inner office. Williamson comes out. Roma tells Williamson that he and Levene are now partners—which is to say, Roma still keeps 100 percent of his own commissions, but he now also gets fifty percent of Levene's commissions. Aaronow comes in and asks if they have caught the thief yet. Roma says he does not know, and heads out to the restaurant.

Analysis

There has been a clear divide between Williamson and the salesmen from the very beginning of the play. Williamson's job is secure and salaried, whereas the salesmen work on commission and therefore do not know from month to month what their income will be. The salesmen resent taking orders from Williamson, as they believe he does not understand how their business works. In this scene Levene insults Williamson, and Roma's subsequent tirade to Williamson adds a new angle: "Whoever told you you could work with men?" Roma asks Williamson. The salesmen constantly speak of themselves as "men." They are referring not just to gender and age; "manhood," as the salesmen seem to see it, requires personal strength and self-guidance. Because Williamson's income is not directly based on his performance, and because his job is to implement policies handed to him by Mitch and Murray, the salesmen do not consider him a true man.

Mamet does not specifically foreshadow Levene's accidental revelation that he is the thief, but the disclosure does not comprise a "twist" per se. In retrospect, Levene as thief makes perfect sense: we can infer that Aaronow, because of meekness, intelligent reluctance, or resentment of Moss's betrayal, decided not to go in with Moss on the robbery scheme, so Moss went on to his next most likely conspirator, Levene. Levene's desperation made him a perfect target for Moss's scheme.

The hesitation Levene demonstrated during the Lingk con dooms him when he tries to talk his way out of Williamson's accusation. Levene quickly abandons denial and, after all of the insults he has hurled at Williamson, immediately reverts to the same kind of desperate mentality he exhibited for Williamson in Act One, scene one. To keep Williamson from sending him to jail, Levene makes many of the same arguments and offers that he did in that scene first scene—arguments that are no more compelling now than they were then.

The difference between Levene's position here and his position the day before is that he made the Nyborg sale in the interim. Now that he considers himself a successful salesman again, he hopes that he has something to offer Williamson. Levene's final humiliation comes when Williamson explains that the Nyborgs are deadbeats. Not only has Levene's robbery backfired, but his sale turns out to have been the product of his own self-delusion. Because Levene has been so desperate to believe that he is still competent, he has allowed his desire to cloud his vision of reality. His fear of failure has led him, tragically, to fail totally.

Levene's desire to feel powerful also has led him to insult Williamson. And now, even though Williamson is a company man, often accused of a robotic allegiance to Mitch and Murray, he makes it devastatingly clear that his personal feelings do play into his decision to destroy Levene. Indeed, in explanation of his actions, Williamson says, "Because I don't like you." Williamson's job may emasculate him, but when he has an opportunity to exercise power, he relishes it as much as do any of the salesmen.

Roma's kindness to Levene at the end of the scene seems touching until Levene goes into the inner office to face Baylen and Roma reveals his true motives to Williamson. We discover that Roma has been conning Levene all along, hoping to form a "partnership" with him so that he can ultimately steal half of Levene's commissions. For all of the cruelty and bitterness we have seen in the play, this final betrayal is perhaps the darkest. Roma, as top salesman on the board, does not have any particular reason or need to steal from Levene. Mamet is making a point: Roma's merciless greed is what makes him top salesman. If American business culture demands that coworkers compete against each other, than the only way to truly stay afloat is to take everything one can possibly get. Roma is the true "Machine." Mamet snuffs the one light in the play—Roma's seeming kindness to Levene—to demonstrate how capitalism can foster greed.

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Roma knew from the board.

by sn1119, November 19, 2013

Though the notes say that "Early in this scene, Roma tells Baylen that he had heard about the robbery from Moss, and Baylen wondered how Moss knew.", when Baylen asks, Roma cites the board on the window and never mentions Moss.

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