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The Last Scene of Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”

This scene is at the last of the play, beginning about line 780 in Act II and continuing to the end of the play. Willy and the boys have already had a fight, and the boys left with a couple of local tarts without telling their father they were going. Willy left, dazed, to go buy seeds at the hardware store. His back yard has been totally shut in by tall buildings; no sun even reaches the ground, but he plants a garden anyway. The next scene begins as the boys get home with roses for their mother. This will be from Linda Loman’s point of view.

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I heard them come in; happy first, and Biff was just behind. I had been sitting here waiting, holding Willy’s jacket. I took it from him when he walked in the door alone. He told me what the boys did, leaving him there at the restaurant, then went to the garage, babbling something about planting the garden. He’s trying to play innocent, and he has flowers as if that will make everything ok. They practically destroyed their father and then took off with a couple of hussies. I left him there. Just left him. After all the sacrifices Willy made for them, and they did this, humiliated him completely.

“What’re you doing up?” Happy asked, pretending to be so innocent as if he didn’t know.

“Where were you?” I asked Happily. He made some lame excuse about nice girls and offered me the roses. I slapped them down to Biff’s feet.

Happy tried again, “Now, what are you do that for? Mom, I want you to have some flowers—“

“Don’t you care whether he lives or dies?” Happy tried to get Biff to come in. He was always the hard one. He was still angry with his father, not sure why, but probably something to do with how much of a dreamer he is. He sneered at me, really disgusted, saying, “What do you mean, lives or dies? Nobody is dying around here, pal.”

I ordered him out of the house, out of my sight. He said he wanted to see the boss. Yeah, some boss now. “You’re not going near him,” I said. I lost it, just started shouting at him. I couldn’t understand how they could go to meet their father when he invited them to dinner and then take off with two whores. I called them names, animals, reminded them how nobody ever humiliated their father like that. They tried to say that Willy had a great time with them. I knew better. He came home all wilted, sort of like a balloon that’s been blown up a bunch of times and then let go, all limp and sort of misshapen. I mean he looked the same. But he wasn’t. I could tell. He said he was tired, but I know tired, and this was a lot more than tired.

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“You didn’t even go in to see if he was all right.”

“No, didn’t,” Biff admitted. “Didn’t do a damn thing. How do you like that, heh? Left him babbling in a toilet.”

“You louse, you….” I could not think what to say.

“Now you hit it on the nose! “ Biff threw the roses he had just picked up into the trash as he got up. “Scum of the earth,” he said, “and you’re looking at him.” Then we argued some more. Biff kept insisting that he had to see “the boss,” and I kept telling him to get out. Finally Biff hear Willy hammering in the garden stakes outside.

“What’s he doing out there?” Biff demanded.

“He’s planting a garden,” I replied.

He got real quiet then, “Now? Oh my God!”

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We stood there and watched Willy from the doorway, measuring off the space, tapping in the stakes. Planting peas and carrots where the sun would never touch them. They would be spindly little yellow things, anemic and worn out without ever having really lived. He babbled to himself as he worked, about the boys, money, $20,000. Kept insisting he wasn’t a coward. Biff finally stepped out and they started talking, Willy insisting he had no time, had to plant the garden and Biff trying to tell him to come in and that he was leaving, because every time he came home they fought.

Willy kept insisting that Biff had a brilliant future, that the boss had put his arm around Biff proved it. Finally Biff just said it out. He sees himself as a failure, because he just cannot live up to Willy’s expectations. They came in and argued some more in the kitchen. It wasn’t any use. They just kept on at each other, tearing each other down.

When Willy brought out the rubber hose, I realized that he had tried to use the car to kill himself. I was frozen, unbelieving. Then Willy swept into his usual tirade about how Biff could be anything he wanted to be. How everyone knew him and everyone knew Willy. Biff couldn’t take it any more, and he just started yelling how he was worthless, “Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you!”

Willy just blew up. “I am not a dime a dozen,” he insisted, “I am Willy Loman and you are Biff Loman!” I thought Biff was going to kill him, but Happy stepped in between them. Biff just started to cry, “Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?” The boys went to bed, but I couldn’t get Willy to come. He said he had to sit and think. He said he’d be up in two minutes.

I knew when I heard the car start up and take off I would never see him again. I knew. He left to never come back and he took with him everything I have ever wanted.

Now, I’m here in this graveyard, and it’s getting dark. We buried him today, and nobody came. Nobody at all. I don’t understand, He knew all those people, and none of them came. Charlie and the boys and I were all who were there. Not even Willy’s boss came, that cold fish that took over for his father. They talked, Charlie about how nobody could blame Willy, and Happy about how he would succeed for his father and Biff just about how Willy had the wrong dreams, didn’t know who he was. I sent them all away to have a last work with Willy. I blamed him; he took everything from me, all of my dreams are gone.

I can’t even cry. I am just so empty, so very alone. He didn’t need to do that. I made the last payment on the house today, and there’ll be nobody home. The boys are leaving, and Willy’s gone, and here I will be, in the house, closed in by big buildings, never see the sun, alone, all alone. How could he do that to me? I gave him everything, and he just left, left me alone, forever.

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