Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller

Act I (continued)

Summary Act I (continued)

Willy’s obsession with being well liked seems to be rooted in his reaction to his father’s and brother’s abandoning of him—he takes their rejection of him as a sign of their not liking him enough. Willy’s memory of Ben’s visit to his home is saturated with fears of abandonment and a need for approval. When Ben declares that he must leave soon in order to catch his train, Willy desperately tries to find some way to make him stay a little longer. He proudly shows his sons to Ben, practically begging for a word of approval. Additionally, he pleads with Ben to tell Biff and Happy about their grandfather, as he realizes that he has no significant family history to give to his sons as an inheritance; the ability to pass such a chronicle on to one’s offspring is an important part of the American Dream that Willy so highly esteems.