Study Guide

Glengarry Glen Ross Setting

By David Mamet


Chicago—a Chinese Restaurant and a Real Estate Office

The city itself doesn't necessarily mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Mamet is a Chicago guy and he did some time in Chicago real estate so he knows how it operates, but what's actually relevant to the story is that it takes place in a major city. This is not a slow-paced stroll through small town life. Nope—this is the big time, and if you don't hustle and perform, you're done.

The Restaurant

The entire first act of the play takes place in the restaurant. Why, you ask? Why not just have this all set in the office?

There are a couple of reasons. The first is that being in the restaurant gives these guys the opportunity to speak a little more freely. There's no way Moss could get away with plotting a robbery of the office while in the office, and there's no way Levene would let the other guys see him begging Williamson for help.

The other brilliant little twist on the restaurant is that it is still an extension of the office. Even though they're free to talk and they're not at work, they're still only talking about work. Levene begs Williamson for leads, Moss and Aaronow complain about the work environment while Moss plots revenge, and Roma uses his time in the restaurant to make a sale.

There is never a time when these guys aren't working. That's what the restaurant lets us see.

The Office

Speaking of work, welcome to the office. This is where these guys come to look at the board, hit the phones, and argue with each other. Interestingly, when we see the office, it's in utter disarray—the phones have been stolen, the place has been robbed, and there are no leads to be had.

Despite the chaos, they still try to work and they still attempt to reign supreme over each other. Levene comes in hot off a sale, brags about it, and talks about the old times; Roma crows about his sale to Lingk and demands the car he's owed for winning the contest; Aaronow asks when the leads are coming. Heck—Roma even makes a last-ditch effort to hang on to the sale he made to Lingk in the restaurant.

Despite the fact that the office has been gutted, it's still the arena the salesmen come to to one-up each other and work (or at least talk about work). Their ability to go forward despite the disarray, then, suggests that perhaps chaos always reigns supreme in this dog-eat-dog environment.

In the end, two salesmen are left standing. Aaronow chooses to hang around at the office… and Roma heads back over to the restaurant.