Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act)
BIFF: He walked away. I saw him for one minute. I got so mad I could’ve torn the walls down! How the hell did I ever get the idea I was a salesman there? I even believed myself that I’d been a salesman for him! And then he gave me one look and—I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been. We’ve been talking in a dream for fifteen years. I was a shipping clerk. (Act 2)
Biff is angry not at having deceived others, but at having deceived himself. The humiliation at Oliver's office is a breaking point for him. After this experience, he seems determined to not deceive himself again.
BIFF: Let’s talk quietly and get down to the facts, huh?
WILLY [as though Biff had been interrupting]: Well, what’s happened? It’s great news, Biff. Did he take you into his office or’d you talk in the waiting room?
BIFF: Well he came in, see, and—
WILLY [with a big smile]: What’d he say? Betcha he threw his arm around you.
BIFF: Well, he kinda—
WILLY: He’s a fine man. [To Happy] Very hard man to see, y’know.
HAPPY [agreeing]: Oh, I know.
WILLY [to Biff]: Is that where you had the drinks?
BIFF: Yeah, he gave me a couple of—no, no!
HAPPY [cutting in]: He told him my Florida idea. (Act 2)
Between Willy's ceaseless interjections and Happy's lies on his behalf, Biff begins to fall back into the family's cycle of deception. Before long, though, reality is bound to break through.
HAPPY: What the hell!
WILLY: Tell me what happened!
Biff [to Happy]: I can’t talk to him!
[A single trumpet note jars the ear. The light of green leaves stains the house, which holds the air of night and a dream. Young Bernard enters and knocks on the door of the house.] (Act 2)
Willy is only able to cope with the reality the Biff lays before him by escaping entirely into his delusions. The increasing harshness of his life is causing him to sink deeper and deeper into his own dream world.