Maj 402. Modern english literature professor George Mitrevski contents

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getting out of bed): He’s going to get his license taken away if he keeps that up. I’m getting nervous about him, y’know, Biff?

BIFF: His eyes are going.

HAPPY: I’ve driven with him. He sees all right. He just doesn’t keep his mind on it. I drove into the city with him last week.

He stops at a green light and then it turns red and he goes. (He laughs.)
BIFF: Maybe he’s color-blind.

HAPPY: Pop? Why he’s got the finest eye for color in the business. You know that.

BIFF (sitting down on his bed): I’m going to sleep.

HAPPY: You’re not still sour on Dad, are you, Biff?

BIFF: He’s all right, I guess.

WILLY (underneath them, in the living room): Yes, sir, eighty thousand miles — eighty-two thousand!

BIFF: You smoking?

HAPPY (holding out a pack of cigarettes): Want one?

BIFF: (taking a cigarette): I can never sleep when I smell it.

WILLY: What a simonizing job, heh?

HAPPY (with deep sentiment): Funny, Biff, y’know? Us sleeping in here again? The old beds. (He pats his bed affectionately.) All the talk that went across those two beds, huh? Our whole lives.

BIFF: Yeah. Lotta dreams and plans.

HAPPY (with a deep and masculine laugh): About five hundred women would like to know what was said in this room. (They share a soft laugh.)

BIFF: Remember that big Betsy something — what the hell was her name — over on Bushwick Avenue?

HAPPY (combing his hair): With the collie dog!

BIFF: That’s the one. I got you in there, remember?

HAPPY: Yeah, that was my first time — I think. Boy, there was a pig. (They laugh, almost crudely.) You taught me everything I know about women. Don’t forget that.

BIFF: I bet you forgot how bashful you used to be. Especially with girls.

HAPPY: Oh, I still am, Biff.

BIFF: Oh, go on.

HAPPY: I just control it, that’s all. I think I got less bashful and you got more so. What happened, Biff? Where’s the old humor, the old confidence? (He shakes Biffs knee. Biff gets up and moves restlessly about the room.) What’s the matter?

BIFF: Why does Dad mock me all the time?

HAPPY: He’s not mocking you, he...

BIFF: Everything I say there’s a twist of mockery on his face. I can’t get near him.

HAPPY: He just wants you to make good, that’s all. I wanted to talk to you about Dad for a long time, Biff. Something’s — happening to him. He — talks to himself.

BIFF: I noticed that this morning. But he always mumbled.

HAPPY: But not so noticeable. It got so embarrassing I sent him to Florida. And you know something? Most of the time he’s talking to you.

BIFF: What’s he say about me?

HAPPY: I can’t make it out.

BIFF: What’s he say about me?

HAPPY: I think the fact that you’re not settled, that you’re still kind of up in the air...

BIFF: There’s one or two other things depressing him, Happy.

HAPPY: What do you mean?

BIFF: Never mind. Just don’t lay it all to me.

HAPPY: But I think if you just got started — I mean — is there any future for you out there?

BIFF: I tell ya, Hap, I don’t know what the future is. I don’t know— what I’m supposed to want.

HAPPY: What do you mean?

BIFF: Well, I spent six or seven years after high school trying to work myself up. Shipping clerk, salesman, business of one kind or another. And it’s a measly manner of existence. To get on that subway on the hot mornings in summer. To devote your whole life to keeping stock, or making phone calls, or selling or buying. To suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two week vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off. And always to have to get ahead of the next fella. And still — that’s how you build a future.

HAPPY: Well, you really enjoy it on a farm? Are you content out there?

BIFF (with rising agitation): Hap, I’ve had twenty or thirty different kinds of jobs since I left home before the war, and it always turns out the same. I just realized it lately. In Nebraska when I herded cattle, and the Dakotas, and Arizona, and now in Texas. It’s why I came home now, I guess, because I realized it. This farm I work on, it’s spring there now, see? And they’ve got about fifteen new colts. There’s nothing more inspiring or — beautiful than the sight of a mare and a new colt. And it’s cool there now, see? Texas is cool now, and it’s spring. And whenever spring comes to where I am, I suddenly get the feeling, my God, I’m not gettin’ anywhere! What the hell am I doing, playing around with horses, twenty-eight dollars a week! I’m thirty-four years old, I oughta be makin’ my future. That’s when I come running home. And now, I get here, and I don’t know what to do with myself. (After a pause.) I’ve always made a point of not wasting my life, and everytime I come back here I know that all I’ve done is to waste my life.

HAPPY: You’re a poet, you know that, Biff? You’re a — you’re an idealist!

BIFF: No, I’m mixed up very bad. Maybe I oughta get married. Maybe I oughta get stuck into something. Maybe that’s my trouble. I’m like a boy. I’m not married, I’m not in business, I just — I’m like a boy. Are you content, Hap? You’re a success, aren’t you? Are you content?

HAPPY: Hell, no!

BIFF: Why? You’re making money, aren’t you?

HAPPY (moving about with energy, expressiveness): All I can do now is wait for the merchandise manager to die. And suppose I get to be merchandise manager? He’s a good friend of mine, and he just built a terrific estate on Long Island. And he lived there about two months and sold it, and now he’s building another one. He can’t enjoy it once it’s finished. And I know that’s just what I would do. I don’t know what the hell I’m workin’ for. Sometimes I sit in my apartment — all alone. And I think of the rent I’m paying. And it’s crazy. But then, it’s what I always wanted. My own apartment, a car, and plenty of women. And still, goddammit, I’m lonely.

BIFF (with enthusiasm): Listen, why don’t you come out West with me?

HAPPY: You and I, heh?

BIFF: Sure, maybe we could buy a ranch. Raise cattle, use our muscles. Men built like we are should be working out in the open.

HAPPY (avidly): The Loman Brothers, heh?

BIFF (with vast affection): Sure, we’d be known all over the counties!

HAPPY (enthralled): That’s what I dream about, Biff. Sometimes I want to just rip my clothes off in the middle of the store and outbox that goddam merchandise manager. I mean I can outbox, outrun, and outlift anybody in that store, and I have to take orders from those common, petty sons-of-bitches till I can’t stand it any more.

BIFF: I’m tellin’ you, kid, if you were with me I’d be happy out there.

HAPPY (enthused): See, Biff, everybody around me is so false that

I’m constantly lowering my ideals...

BIFF: Baby, together we’d stand up for one another, we’d have someone to trust.

HAPPY: If I were around you...

BIFF: Hap, the trouble is we weren’t brought up to grub for money. I don’t know how to do it.

HAPPY: Neither can I!

BIFF: Then let’s go!

HAPPY: The only thing is — what can you make out there?

BIFF: But look at your friend. Builds an estate and then hasn’t the peace of mind to live in it.

HAPPY: Yeah, but when he walks into the store the waves part in front of him. That’s fifty-two thousand dollars a year coming through the revolving door, and I got more in my pinky finger than he’s got in his head.

BIFF: Yeah, but you just said...

HAPPY: I gotta show some of those pompous, self-important executives over there that Hap Loman can make the grade. I want to walk into the store the way he walks in. Then I’ll go with you, Biff. We’ll be together yet, I swear. But take those two we had tonight. Now weren’t they gorgeous creatures?

BIFF: Yeah, yeah, most gorgeous I’ve had in years.

HAPPY: I get that any time I want, Biff. Whenever I feel disgusted. The only trouble is, it gets like bowling or something. I just keep knockin’ them over and it doesn’t mean anything. You still run around a lot?

BIFF: Naa. I’d like to find a girl — steady, somebody with substance.

HAPPY: That’s what I long for.

BIFF: Go on! You’d never come home.

HAPPY: I would! Somebody with character, with resistance! Like Mom, y’know? You’re gonna call me a bastard when I tell you this. That girl Charlotte I was with tonight is engaged to be married in five weeks. (He tries on his new hat.)

BIFF: No kiddin’!

HAPPY: Sure, the guy’s in line for the vice-presidency of the store. I don’t know what gets into me, maybe I just have an overdeveloped sense of competition or something, but I went and ruined her, and furthermore I can’t get rid of her. And he’s the third executive I’ve done that to. Isn’t that a crummy characteristic? And to top it all, I go to their weddings! (Indignantly, but laughing.) Like I’m not supposed to take bribes. Manufacturers offer me a hundred-dollar bill now and then to throw an order their way. You know how honest I am, but it’s like this girl, see. I hate myself for it. Because I don’t want the girl, and still, I take it and — I love it!

BIFF: Let’s go to sleep.

HAPPY: I guess we didn’t settle anything, heh?

BIFF: I just got one idea that I think I’m going to try.

HAPPY: What’s that?

BIFF: Remember Bill Oliver?

HAPPY: Sure, Oliver is very big now. You want to work for him again?

BIFF: No, but when I quit he said something to me. He put his arm on my shoulder, and he said, »Biff, if you ever need anything, come to me.«

HAPPY: I remember that. That sounds good.

BIFF: I think I’ll go to see him. If I could get ten thousand or even seven or eight thousand dollars I could buy a beautiful ranch.

HAPPY: I bet he’d back you. Cause he thought highly of you, Biff.

I mean, they all do. You’re well liked, Biff. That’s why I say to come back here, and we both have the apartment. And I’m tellin’ you, Biff, any babe you want...

BIFF: No, with a ranch I could do the work I like and still be something. I just wonder though. I wonder if Oliver still thinks I stole that carton of basketballs.

HAPPY: Oh, he probably forgot that long ago. It’s almost ten years. You’re too sensitive. Anyway, he didn’t really fire you.

BIFF: Well, I think he was going to. I think that’s why I quit. I was never sure whether he knew or not. I know he thought the world of me, though. I was the only one he’d let lock up the place.

WILLY (below): You gonna wash the engine, Biff?


(Biff looks at Happy, who is gazing down, listening. Willy is mumbling in the parlor.)
HAPPY: You hear that? (They listen. Willy laughs warmly.)

BIFF (growing angry): Doesn’t he know Mom can hear that?

WILLY: Don’t get your sweater dirty, Biff! (A look of pain crosses Biffs face.)

HAPPY: Isn’t that terrible? Don’t leave again, will you? You’ll find a job here. You gotta stick around. I don’t know what to do about him, it’s getting embarrassing.

WILLY: What a simonizing job!

BIFF: Mom’s hearing that!

WILLY: No kiddin’, Biff, you got a date? Wonderful!

HAPPY: Go on to sleep. But talk to him in the morning, will you?

BIFF (reluctantly getting into bed): With her in the house. Brother!

HAPPY (getting into bed): I wish you’d have a good talk with him.

(The light of their room begins to fade.)
BIFF (to himself in bed): That selfish, stupid...

HAPPY: Sh... Sleep, Biff.

(Their light is out. Well before they have finished speaking, Willy’s form is dimly seen below in the darkened kitchen. He opens the refrigerator, searches in there, and takes out a bottle of milk. The apartment houses are fading out, and the entire house and surroundings become covered with leaves. Music insinuates itself as the leaves appear.)
WILLY: Just wanna be careful with those girls, Biff, that’s all.

Don’t make any promises. No promises of any kind. Because a girl, y’know, they always believe what you tell ‘em, and you’re very young, Biff, you’re too young to be talking seriously to girls.

(Light rises on the kitchen. Willy, talking, shuts the refrigerator door and comes downstage to the kitchen table. He pours milk into a glass. He is totally immersed in himself, smiling faintly.)
WILLY: Too young entirely, Biff. You want to watch your schooling first. Then when you’re all set, there’ll be plenty of girls for a boy like you. (He smiles broadly at a kitchen chair.) That so? The girls pay for you? (He laughs) Boy, you must really be makin’ a hit.
(Willy is gradually addressing — physically — a point offstage, speaking through the wall of the kitchen, and his voice has been rising in volume to that of a normal conversation.)
WILLY: I been wondering why you polish the car so careful. Ha! Don’t leave the hubcaps, boys. Get the chamois to the hubcaps. Happy, use newspaper on the windows, it’s the easiest thing. Show him how to do it Biff! You see, Happy? Pad it up, use it like a pad. That’s it, that’s it, good work. You’re doin’ all right, Hap. (He pauses, then nods in approbation for a few seconds, then looks upward.) Biff, first thing we gotta do when we get time is clip that big branch over the house. Afraid it’s gonna fall in a storm and hit the roof. Tell you what. We get a rope and sling her around, and then we climb up there with a couple of saws and take her down. Soon as you finish the car, boys, I wanna see ya. I got a surprise for you, boys.

BIFF (offstage): Whatta ya got, Dad?

WILLY: No, you finish first. Never leave a job till you’re finished

— remember that. (Looking toward the »big trees«.) Biff, up in Albany I saw a beautiful hammock. I think I’ll buy it next trip, and we’ll hang it right between those two elms. Wouldn’t that be something? Just swingin’ there under those branches. Boy, that would be...

(Young Biff and Young Happy appear from the direction Willy was addressing. Happy carries rags and a pail of water. Biff, wearing a sweater with a block »S«, carries a football.)
BIFF (pointing in the direction of the car offstage): How’s that, Pop, professional?

WILLY: Terrific. Terrific job, boys. Good work, Biff.

HAPPY: Where’s the surprise, Pop?

WILLY: In the back seat of the car.

HAPPY: Boy! (He runs off.)

BIFF: What is it, Dad? Tell me, what’d you buy?

WILLY (laughing, cuffs him): Never mind, something I want you to have.

BIFF (turns and starts off): What is it, Hap?

HAPPY (offstage): It’s a punching bag!

BIFF: Oh, Pop!

WILLY: It’s got Gene Tunney’s signature on it! (Happy runs onstage with a punching bag.)

BIFF: Gee, how’d you know we wanted a punching bag?

WILLY: Well, it’s the finest thing for the timing.

HAPPY (lies down on his back and pedals with his feet): I’m losing weight, you notice, Pop?

WILLY (to Happy): Jumping rope is good too.

BIFF: Did you see the new football I got?

WILLY (examining the ball): Where’d you get a new ball?

BIFF: The coach told me to practice my passing.

WILLY: That so? And he gave you the ball, heh?

BIFF: Well, I borrowed it from the locker room. (He laughs confidentially.)

WILLY (laughing with him at the theft): I want you to return that.

HAPPY: I told you he wouldn’t like it!

BIFF (angrily): Well, I’m bringing it back!

WILLY (stopping the incipient argument, to Happy): Sure, he’s gotta practice with a regulation ball, doesn’t he? (To Biff.) Coach’ll probably congratulate you on your initiative!

BIFF: Oh, he keeps congratulating my initiative all the time, Pop.

WILLY: That’s because he likes you. If somebody else took that ball there’d be an uproar. So what’s the report, boys, what’s the report?

BIFF: Where’d you go this time, Dad? Gee we were lonesome for you.

WILLY (pleased, puts an arm around each boy and they come down to the apron): Lonesome, heh?

BIFF: Missed you every minute.

WILLY: Don’t say? Tell you a secret, boys. Don’t breathe it to a soul. Someday I’ll have my own business, and I’ll never have to leave home any more.

HAPPY: Like Uncle Charley, heh?

WILLY: Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not —liked. He’s liked, but he’s not — well liked.

BIFF: Where’d you go this time, Dad?

WILLY: Well, I got on the road, and I went north to Providence. Met the Mayor.

BIFF: The Mayor of Providence!

WILLY: He was sitting in the hotel lobby.

BIFF: What’d he say?

WILLY: He said, »Morning!« And I said, »You got a fine city here, Mayor.« And then he had coffee with me. And then I went to Waterbury. Waterbury is a fine city. Big clock city, the famous Waterbury clock. Sold a nice bill there. And then Boston — Boston is the cradle of the Revolution. A fine city. And a couple of other towns in Mass., and on to Portland and Bangor and straight home!

BIFF: Gee, I’d love to go with you sometime, Dad.

WILLY: Soon as summer comes.

HAPPY: Promise?

WILLY: You and Hap and I, and I’ll show you all the towns.

America is full of beautiful towns and fine, upstanding people. And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England. The finest people. And when I bring you fellas up, there’ll be open sesame for all of us, ‘cause one thing, boys: I have friends. I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own. This summer, heh?

BIFF AND HAPPY (together): Yeah! You bet!

WILLY: We’ll take our bathing suits.

HAPPY: We’ll carry your bags, Pop!

WILLY: Oh, won’t that be something! Me comin’ into the Boston stores with you boys carryin’ my bags. What a sensation!
(Biff is prancing around, practicing passing the ball.)
WILLY: You nervous, Biff, about the game?

BIFF: Not if you’re gonna be there.

WILLY: What do they say about you in school, now that they made you captain?

HAPPY: There’s a crowd of girls behind him everytime the classes change.

BIFF (taking Willy’s hand): This Saturday, Pop, this Saturday —just for you, I’m going to break through for a touchdown.

HAPPY: You’re supposed to pass.

BIFF: I’m takin’ one play for Pop. You watch me, Pop, and when I take off my helmet, that means I’m breakin’ out. Then you watch me crash through that line!

WILLY (kisses Biff): Oh, wait’ll I tell this in Boston!

(Bernard enters in knickers. He is younger than Biff, earnest and loyal, a worried boy).
BERNARD: Biff, where are you? You’re supposed to study with me today.

WILLY: Hey, looka Bernard. What’re you lookin’ so anemic about, Bernard?

BERNARD: He’s gotta study, Uncle Willy. He’s got Regents next week.

HAPPY (tauntingly, spinning Bernard around): Let’s box, Bernard!

BERNARD: Biff! (He gets away from Happy.) Listen, Biff, I heard Mr. Birnbaum say that if you don’t start studyin’ math he’s gonna flunk you, and you won’t graduate. I heard him!

WILLY: You better study with him, Biff. Go ahead now.

BERNARD: I heard him!

BIFF: Oh, Pop, you didn’t see my sneakers! (He holds up a foot for Willy to look at.)

WILLY: Hey, that’s a beautiful job of printing!

BERNARD (wiping his glasses): Just because he printed University of Virginia on his sneakers doesn’t mean they’ve got to graduate him. Uncle Willy!

WILLY (angrily): What’re you talking about? With scholarships to three universities they’re gonna flunk him?

BERNARD: But I heard Mr. Birnbaum say...

WILLY: Don’t be a pest, Bernard! (To his boys.) What an anemic!

BERNARD: Okay, I’m waiting for you in my house, Biff.

(Bernard goes off. The Lomans laugh.)
WILLY: Bernard is not well liked, is he?

BIFF: He’s liked, but he’s not well liked.

HAPPY: That’s right, Pop.

WILLY: That’s just what I mean. Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y’understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him. That’s why I thank Almighty God you’re both built like Adonises. Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. »Willy Loman is here!« That’s all they have to know, and I go right through.

BIFF: Did you knock them dead. Pop?

WILLY: Knocked ‘em cold in Providence, slaughtered ‘em in Boston.

HAPPY (on his back, pedaling again): I’m losing weight, you notice, Pop?
(Linda enters as of old, a ribbon in her hair, carrying a basket of washing.)
LINDA (with youthful energy): Hello, dear!

WILLY: Sweetheart!

LINDA: How’d the Chevvy run?

WILLY: Chevrolet, Linda, is the greatest car ever built. (To the boys.) Since when do you let your mother carry wash up the stairs?

BIFF: Grab hold there, boy!

HAPPY: Where to, Mom?

LINDA: Hang them up on the line. And you better go down to your friends, Biff. The cellar is full of boys. They don’t know what to do with themselves.

BIFF: Ah, when Pop comes home they can wait!

WILLY (laughs appreciatively): You better go down and tell them what to do, Biff.

BIFF: I think I’ll have them sweep out the furnace room.

WILLY: Good work, Biff.

BIFF (goes through wall-line of kitchen to doorway at back and calls down): Fellas! Everybody sweep out the furnace room! I’ll be right down!

VOICES: All right! Okay, Biff.

BIFF: George and Sam and Frank, come out back! We’re hangin’ up the wash! Come on, Hap, on the double! (He and Happy carry out the basket.)

LINDA: The way they obey him!

WILLY: Well, that’s training, the training. I’m tellin’ you, I was sellin’ thousands and thousands, but I had to come home.

LINDA: Oh, the whole block’ll be at that game. Did you sell anything?

WILLY: I did five hundred gross in Providence and seven hundred gross in Boston.

LINDA: No! Wait a minute, I’ve got a pencil. (She pulls pencil and paper out of her apron pocket.) That makes your commission...

Two hundred... my God! Two hundred and twelve dollars!

WILLY: Well, I didn’t figure it yet, but...

LINDA: How much did you do?

WILLY: Well, I — I did — about a hundred and eighty gross in Providence. Well, no — it came to — roughly two hundred gross on the whole trip.

LINDA (without hesitation): Two hundred gross. That’s... (She figures.)

WILLY: The trouble was that three of the stores were half-closed for inventory in Boston. Otherwise I woulda broke records.

LINDA: Well, it makes seventy dollars and some pennies. That’s very good.

WILLY: What do we owe?

LINDA: Well, on the first there’s sixteen dollars on the refrigerator

WILLY: Why sixteen?

LINDA: Well, the fan belt broke, so it was a dollar eighty.

WILLY: But it’s brand new.

LINDA: Well, the man said that’s the way it is. Till they work themselves in, y’know.

(They move through the wall-line into the kitchen.)
WILLY: I hope we didn’t get stuck on that machine.

LINDA: They got the biggest ads of any of them!

WILLY: I know, it’s a fine machine. What else?

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