Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Linda Loman Timeline and Summary
- Hearing Willy come home early from work, Linda inquires why his trip ended so quickly.
- She’s concerned about his recent (and weird) behavior, which she thinks is from exhaustion. She pleads with Willy to ask his boss, Howard, to allow him to work in New York City rather than traveling throughout New England.
- Linda and Willy discuss their grown sons, Biff and Happy, and Willy’s frustrations with Biff.
- Now inside Willy’s hallucinations, a younger Linda meets her husband as he comes home from a sales trip. He tells her that he was well-liked during his travels and earned a ton of money. She eagerly does the math on his commission, only to find that he earned $70 (really not a lot of money at all, even back then).
- Willy’s stressed about the lack of good business, but Linda soothes him.
- Despite her good nature toward Willy, he lashes out at her when he sees her fixing her stockings.
- Back in reality, Linda urges Willy to come to bed, which he doesn’t do.
- Linda, disturbed that Willy has been talking aloud to himself, returns to the kitchen and asks Willy what’s going on. He wanders out, insisting he needs a walk.
- Linda explains to her sons, who were woken by their father’s ranting, that Willy’s behavior is worse when Biff’s around. She asks Biff to stop drifting between jobs, get serious, and show Willy some respect.
- Linda won’t listen when Biff says that Willy treats her terribly. Instead, she gets offended. She admits to her sons that Willy’s company has cut his salary and they’re struggling financially, forced to borrow from Charley every week to pay the bills.
- Linda is harsh on her sons, accusing them of being ungrateful and oblivious. She points out that Willy’s been trying to kill himself in car "accidents" and such.
- Piling the pressure on Biff, Linda says that Willy’s life is in his (Biff’s) hands.
- When Willy gets home, Linda plays her usual role, attempting to prevent an argument between Biff and Willy.
- Linda tries to sing a frustrated Willy to sleep.
- The next morning over breakfast, Linda asks Willy to have Howard give him an advance payment in addition to asking for a non-traveling job. She also lets her husband know that Happy and Biff want to take him to dinner that evening.
- Later that night, Biff and Happy return from their night out to find Linda awake, waiting for them, and mad as all hell. She calls out Biff and Happy for ditching Willy at dinner for some floozies.
- Linda tries to keep Biff from seeing his father, but it doesn’t work. The best she can do is try in vain to calm the two men’s raging tempers.
- As the fight cools, Linda helps Willy understand that Biff actually loves him. She also tries to get Willy to go to bed.
- We’re not surprised when this bed tactic doesn’t work. Linda goes upstairs alone.
- Linda and Biff helplessly shout after Willy as they hear him tear out of the house. Linda hears the car crash.
- Several days later, Linda, Charley, Biff, and Happy stand over Willy’s grave.
- Linda wonders why no one came to his funeral.
- Left alone at his grave, Linda sobs, unable to understand why Willy would kill himself.
- Linda reveals that she made the last payment on their house that day—they really own it now. She cries over the grave, repeatedly sobbing, "we’re free."