Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Abandonment Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act)
WILLY: 'Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people? Do you know? When he died—and by the way he died the death of a salesman, in his in his green velvet slippers in the smoker of New York, New Haven and Hartford, going into Boston—when he died, hundreds of salesman and buyers were at his funeral. Things were sad on a lotta trains for months after that. In those days, there was personality in it, Howard. There was respect, and comradeship and gratitude in it. Today it’s all cut and dried, and there’s no chance for bringing friendship to bear- or personality. You see what I mean? They don’t know me anymore. (Act 2)
Willy idolizes the idea of being remembered and fears that even the clients whom he sells to have abandoned him. He's terrified by the idea that, ultimately, he's totally alone.
BIFF: You fake! You phony little fake! You fake! [Overcome, he turns quickly and weeping fully goes out with his suitcase. Willy is left on the floor on his knees.]
WILLY: I gave you an order! Biff, come back here or I’ll beat you! Come back here! I’ll whip you! (Act 2)
Discovering his father's affair, Biff walks out on Willy both by literally abandoning him in the doorway and by emotionally separating himself from his father. Ironically, it may be Willy's fear of being abandoned that led him to have the affair in the first place.
LINDA [shouting after Biff]: You invite him to dinner. He looks forward to it all day—[Biff appears in his parent’s bedroom, looks around, and exits]—and then you desert him there. There’s no stranger you’d do that to!
LINDA: You’re a pair of animals! Not one, not another living soul would have had the cruelty to walk out on that man in a restaurant! (Act 2)
Linda's extreme anger at Biff and Happy for leaving Willy at dinner reflects her knowledge that Willy's well-being depends on their attentiveness to him. It really is a pretty jerk move on Biff and Happy's part right? No matter what Willy's flaws are, it's really just not that cool to leave your aging father, who is babbling to himself in the bathroom. Tsk, tsk, boys.