Death of A Salesman: Novel Summary: Act 2, Scene 3

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This scene launches into another of Willy's flashbacks/dream sequences.  As before, Ben, Willy's older and richer brother, appears.  Also like before, Ben is in a hurry to leave.  It seems Ben is always rushing away for one reason or another.  Miller cleverly uses this motif to symbolize Willy's race against time.  Willy feels that if he or his sons don't soon find success soon, his whole life will be a failure.
When Ben offers Willy a job in Alaska, Willy is tempted, but maintains that he is "building something" with his sales company in New England (keep in mind this occurs in the past, when Willy really did feel that he was building something with the firm).  He tries to show Ben that indeed he has been a success, bragging about Biff: "Without a penny to his name, three great universities are begging for him, and from there the sky's the limit, because it's not what you do, Ben, it's who you know and the smile on your face!" Unfortunately, this is the whole fallacy behind Willy's flawed life.  Life (as Willy has found out in the previous scene when he is fired) is about substance, not smiles.  Willy is unable to deliver the sales and so is unable to keep his job.  As difficult as this may seem to him, this is the reality of life in a free market economy.
Later, Charley enters the scene, and soon a confrontation between Willy and his neighbor ensues.  Even at this time Willy feels inferior to Charley, which causes the salesman to place the burden of the family's success on the shoulders of Biff, his high school football star.

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