Glengarry Glen Ross

by: David Mamet

Act Two, from Lingk's exit to the finish

Summary Act Two, from Lingk's exit to the finish

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.