when willy walks into howard's office
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In the second act, Arthur Miller uses Howard Wagner as a symbol of progress and innovation in contrast with Willy Loman's outdated notions of business tactics. Most of the details in Howard's office emphasize technological innovation and novelty, from his well-appointed, modern office to the recording machine that fascinates Howard. This shows that Howard is more interested in the future than the past, as he ignores Willy to consider his new machine. In contrast, Willy speaks not of his future with the company but with his history and past promises. That Willy is frightened by the recorder is a symbol of Willy's obsolescence within a modern business world; he cannot deal with innovation. Even his values, as he notes, belong to a different time. Willy speaks of a past time when being a salesman demanded respect and friendship, a time that has clearly passed, if it ever existed at all.