Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman Summary and Analysis of Act II.1

Act II (Loman Home, Present Day):

Willy sits at the kitchen table the next morning. He claims that he slept well for the first time in months. Linda says that it was thrilling to see the boys leaving together, and says that Biff had a new, hopeful attitude. Willy dreams about buying a little place in the country. Linda asks Willy if he will talk to Howard today, and he says that he will tell Howard to take him off the road. Linda tells him that he is supposed to meet the boys for dinner at Frank's Chop House. As soon as Willy leaves, Linda gets a phone call from Biff. She tells him that the pipe that Willy connected to the gas heater is gone; Willy must have taken it away himself. She is disappointed to learn that Biff is the one who took it away.


The second act begins with a dramatic shift in tone from the previous act, as Willy now appears cheerful and optimistic. Most importantly, the pipe connected to the gas heater with which Willy tried to commit suicide is now gone; Linda automatically assumes that Willy took it away himself, although this will come into question later in the play.

But the sense of optimism that dominates the start of the act is somewhat unfounded. His change in mood is entirely based on Biff's meeting with Bill Oliver, trumped up in Willy's mind to a sure-bet business plan. Willy has gone from suicidal to confident and cheerful in the matter of one night, despite the fact that nothing concrete has been resolved, because the dream of the Oliver plan gave him hope.