LINDA: Well, there’s nine-sixty for the washing machine. And for the vacuum cleaner there’s three and a half due on the fifteenth. Then the roof, you got twenty-one dollars remaining.
WILLY: It don’t leak, does it?
LINDA: No, they did a wonderful job. Then you owe Frank for the carburetor.
WILLY: I’m not going to pay that man! That goddam Chevrolet, they ought to prohibit the manufacture oft hat car!
LINDA: Well, you owe him three and a half. And odds and ends, comes to around a hundred and twenty dollars by the fifteenth.
WILLY: A hundred and twenty dollars! My God, if business don’t pick up I don’t know what I’m gonna do!
LINDA: Well, next week you’ll do better.
WILLY: Oh, I’ll knock ‘em dead next week. I’ll go to Hartford. I’m very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don’t seem to take to me.
(They move onto the forestage.) LINDA: Oh, don’t be foolish.
WILLY: I know it when I walk in. They seem to laugh at me.
LINDA: Why? Why would they laugh at you? Don’t talk that way, Willy.
(Willy moves to the edge of the stage. Linda goes into the kitchen and starts to dam stockings.)
WILLY: I don’t know the reason for it, but they just pass me by. I’m not noticed.
LINDA: But you’re doing wonderful, dear. You’re making seventy to a hundred dollars a week.
WILLY: But I gotta be at it ten, twelve hours a day. Other men — I don’t know — they do it easier. I don’t know why — I can’t stop myself — I talk too much. A man oughta come in with a few words. One thing about Charley. He’s a man of few words, and they respect him.
LINDA: You don’t talk too much, you’re just lively.
WILLY (smiling): Well, I figure, what the hell, life is short, a couple of jokes. (To himself.) I joke too much (The smile goes.)
LINDA: Why? You’re...
WILLY: I’m fat. I’m very — foolish to look at, Linda. I didn’t tell you, but Christmas time I happened to be calling on F. H. Stewarts, and a salesman I know, as I was going in to see the buyer I heard him say something about — walrus. And I — I cracked him right across the face. I won’t take that. I simply will not take that. But they do laugh at me. I know that.
WILLY: I gotta overcome it. I know I gotta overcome it. I’m not dressing to advantage, maybe.
LINDA: Willy, darling, you’re the handsomest man in the world...
WILLY: Oh, no, Linda.
LINDA: To me you are. (Slight pause.) The handsomest.
(From the darkness is heard the laughter of a woman. Willy doesn’t turn to it, but it continues through Linda’s lines.)
LINDA: And the boys, Willy. Few men are idolized by their children the way you are.
(Music is heard as behind a scrim, to the left of the house; The
Woman, dimly seen, is dressing.) WILLY (with great feeling): You’re the best there is, Linda, you’re a pal, you know that? On the road — on the road I want to grab you sometimes and just kiss the life outa you.
(The laughter is loud now, and he moves into a brightening area at the left, where The Woman has come from behind the scrim and is standing, putting on her hat, looking into a »mirror« and laughing.) WILLY: Cause I get so lonely — especially when business is bad and there’s nobody to talk to. I get the feeling that I’ll never sell anything again, that I won’t make a living for you, or a business, a business for the boys. (He talks through The Woman’s subsiding laughter; The Woman primps at the »mirror«.) There’s so much I want to make for...
THE WOMAN: Me? You didn’t make me, Willy. I picked you.
WILLY (pleased): You picked me?
THE WOMAN: (who is quite proper-looking, Willy’s age): I did. I’ve been sitting at that desk watching all the salesmen go by, day in, day out. But you’ve got such a sense of humor, and we do have such a good time together, don’t we?
WILLY: Sure, sure. (He takes her in his arms.) Why do you have to go now?
THE WOMAN: It’s two o’clock...
WILLY: No, come on in! (He pulls her.)
THE WOMAN:... my sisters’ll be scandalized. When’ll you be back?
WILLY: Oh, two weeks about. Will you come up again?
THE WOMAN: Sure thing. You do make me laugh. It’s good for me. (She squeezes his arm, kisses him.) And I think you’re a wonderful man.
WILLY: You picked me, heh?
THE WOMAN: Sure. Because you’re so sweet. And such a kidder.
WILLY: Well, I’ll see you next time I’m in Boston.
THE WOMAN: I’ll put you right through to the buyers.
WILLY (slapping her bottom): Right. Well, bottoms up!
THE WOMAN (slaps him gently and laughs): You just kill me, Willy. (He suddenly grabs her and kisses her roughly.) You kill me. And thanks for the stockings. I love a lot of stockings. Well, good night.
WILLY: Good night. And keep your pores open!
THE WOMAN: Oh, Willy!
(The Woman bursts out laughing, and Linda’s laughter blends in. The Woman disappears into the dark. Now the area at the kitchen table brightens. Linda is sitting where she was at the kitchen table, but now is mending a pair of her silk stockings.) LINDA: You are, Willy. The handsomest man. You’ve got no reason to feel that...
WILLY (corning out of The Woman’s dimming area and going over to Linda): I’ll make it all up to you, Linda, I’ll...
LINDA: There’s nothing to make up, dear. You’re doing fine, better than...
WILLY (noticing her mending): What’s that?
LINDA: Just mending my stockings. They’re so expensive...
WILLY (angrily, taking them from her): I won’t have you mending stockings in this house! Now throw them out! (Linda puts the stockings in her pocket.)
BERNARD (entering on the run): Where is he? If he doesn’t study!
WILLY (moving to the forestage, with great agitation): You’ll give him the answers!
BERNARD: I do, but I can’t on a Regents! That’s a state exam!
They’re liable to arrest me!
WILLY: Where is he? I’ll whip him, I’ll whip him!
LINDA: And he’d better give back that football, Willy, it’s not nice.
WILLY: Biff! Where is he? Why is he taking everything?
LINDA: He’s too rough with the girls, Willy. All the mothers are afraid of him!
WILLY: I’ll whip him!
BERNARD: He’s driving the car without a license!
(The Woman’s laugh is heard.)
WILLY: Shut up!
LINDA: All the mothers...
WILLY: Shut up!
BERNARD (backing quietly away and out): Mr. Birnbaum says he’s stuck up. WILLY: Get outa here!
BERNARD: If he doesn’t buckle down he’ll flunk math! (He goes off.)
LINDA: He’s right, Willy, you’ve gotta...
WILLY (exploding at her): There’s nothing the matter with him! You want him to be a worm like Bernard? He’s got spirit, personality (As he speaks, Linda, almost in tears, exits into the living room. Willy is alone in the kitchen, wilting and staring. The leaves are gone. It is night again, and the apartment houses look down from behind.)
WILLY: Loaded with it. Loaded! What is he stealing? He’s giving it back, isn’t he? Why is he stealing? What did I tell him? I never in my life told him anything but decent things.
(Happy in pajamas has come down the stairs; Willy suddenly becomes aware of Happy’s presence.) HAPPY: Let’s go now, come on.
WILLY (sitting down at the kitchen table): Huh! Why did she have to wax the floors herself? Everytime she waxes the floors she keels over. She knows that!
HAPPY: Shh! Take it easy. What brought you back tonight?
WILLY: I got an awful scare. Nearly hit a kid in Yonkers. God! Why didn’t I go to Alaska with my brother Ben that time! Ben! That man was a genius, that man was success incarnate! What a mistake! He begged me to go.
HAPPY: Well, there’s no use in...
WILLY: You guys! There was a man started with the clothes on his back and ended up with diamond mines!
HAPPY: Boy, someday I’d like to know how he did it.
WILLY: What’s the mystery? The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it! Walked into a jungle, and comes out, the age of twenty-one, and he’s rich! The world is an oyster, but you don’t crack it open on a mattress!
HAPPY: Pop, I told you I’m gonna retire you for life.
WILLY: You’ll retire me for life on seventy goddam dollars a week? And your women and your car and your apartment, and you’ll retire me for life! Christ’s sake, I couldn’t get past Yonkers today! Where are you guys, where are you? The woods are burning! I can’t drive a car!
(Charley has appeared in the doorway. He is a large man, slow of speech, laconic, immovable. In all he says, despite what he says, there is pity, and, now, trepidation. He has a robe over pajamas, slippers on his feet. He enters the kitchen.) CHARLEY: Everything all right? HAPPY: Yeah, Charley, everything’s...
WILLY: What’s the matter?
CHARLEY: I heard some noise. I thought something happened.
Can’t we do something about the walls? You sneeze in here, and in my house hats blow off.
CHARLEY (sitting down at the kitchen table opposite Willy): Couldn’t sleep good. I had a heartburn.
WILLY: Well, you don’t know how to eat.
CHARLEY: I eat with my mouth.
WILLY: No, you’re ignorant. You gotta know about vitamins and things like that.
CHARLEY: Come on, let’s shoot. Tire you out a little.
WILLY (hesitantly): All right. You got cards?
CHARLEY (taking a deck from his pocket): Yeah, I got them. Someplace. What is it with those vitamins?
WILLY (dealing): They build up your bones. Chemistry.
CHARLEY: Yeah, but there’s no bones in a heartburn.
WILLY: What are you talkin’ about? Do you know the first thing about it?
CHARLEY: Don’t get insulted.
WILLY: Don’t talk about something you don’t know anything about.
(They are playing. Pause.) CHARLEY: What’re you doin’ home?
WILLY: A little trouble with the car.
CHARLEY: Oh. (Pause.) I’d like to take a trip to California.
WILLY: Don’t say.
CHARLEY: You want a job?
WILLY: I got a job, I told you that. (After a slight pause.) What the hell are you offering me a job for?
CHARLEY: Don’t get insulted.
WILLY: Don’t insult me.
CHARLEY: I don’t see no sense in it. You don’t have to go on this way.
WILLY: I got a good job. (Slight pause.) What do you keep comin’ in here for?
CHARLEY: You want me to go?
WILLY (after a pause, withering): I can’t understand it. He’s going back to Texas again. What the hell is that?
CHARLEY: Let him go.
WILLY: I got nothin’ to give him, Charley, I’m clean, I’m clean.
CHARLEY: He won’t starve. None a them starve. Forget about him.
WILLY: Then what have I got to remember?
CHARLEY: You take it too hard. To hell with it. When a deposit bottle is broken you don’t get your nickel back.
WILLY: That’s easy enough for you to say.
CHARLEY: That ain’t easy for me to say.
WILLY: Did you see the ceiling I put up in the living room?
CHARLEY: Yeah, that’s a piece of work. To put up a ceiling is a mystery to me. How do you do it?
WILLY: What’s the difference? CHARLEY: Well, talk about it. WILLY: You gonna put up a ceiling?
CHARLEY: How could I put up a ceiling?
WILLY: Then what the hell are you bothering me for?
CHARLEY: You’re insulted again.
WILLY: A man who can’t handle tools is not a man. You’re disgusting.
CHARLEY: Don’t call me disgusting, Willy.
(Uncle Ben, carrying a valise and an umbrella, enters the forestage from around the right corner of the house. He is a stolid man, in his sixties, with a mustache and an authoritative air. He is utterly certain of his destiny, and there is an aura of far places about him. He enters exactly as Willy speaks.) WILLY: I’m getting awfully tired, Ben.
(Ben’s music is heard. Ben looks around at everything.) CHARLEY: Good, keep playing; you’ll sleep better. Did you call me Ben?
(Ben looks at his watch.) WILLY: That’s funny. For a second there you reminded me of my brother Ben.
BEN: I only have a few minutes. (He strolls, inspecting the place.
Willy and Charley continue playing.)
CHARLEY: You never heard from him again, heh? Since that time?
WILLY: Didn’t Linda tell you? Couple of weeks ago we got a letter from his wife in Africa. He died.
CHARLEY: That so.
BEN (chuckling): So this is Brooklyn, eh?
CHARLEY: Maybe you’re in for some of his money.
WILLY: Naa, he had seven sons. There’s just one opportunity I had with that man...
BEN: I must make a tram, William. There are several properties
I’m looking at in Alaska.
WILLY: Sure, sure! If I’d gone with him to Alaska that time, everything would’ve been totally different.
WILLY: There was the only man I ever met who knew the answers.
BEN: How are you all?
WILLY (taking a pot, smiling): Fine, fine.
CHARLEY: Pretty sharp tonight.
BEN: Is Mother living with you?
WILLY: No, she died a long time ago.
BEN: That’s too bad. Fine specimen of a lady, Mother.
WILLY (to Charley): Heh?
BEN: I’d hoped to see the old girl.
CHARLEY: Who died?
BEN: Heard anything from Father, have you?
WILLY (unnerved): What do you mean, who died?
CHARLEY (taking a pot): What’re you talkin’ about?
BEN (looking at his watch): William, it’s half past eight!
WILLY (as though to dispel his confusion he angrily stops Charley’s hand). That’s my build!
CHARLEY: I put the ace...
WILLY: If you don’t know how to play the game I’m not gonna throw my money away on you!
CHARLEY (rising): It was my ace, for God’s sake!
WILLY: I’m through, I’m through!
BEN: When did Mother die?
WILLY: Long ago. Since the beginning you never knew how to play cards.
CHARLEY (picks up the cards and goes to the door): All right! Next time I’ll bring a deck with five aces.
WILLY: I don’t play that kind of game!
CHARLEY (turning to him): You ought to be ashamed of yourself!
CHARLEY: Yeah! (he goes out.)
WILLY (slamming the door after him): Ignoramus!
BEN (as Willy comes toward him through the wall-line of the kitchen): So you’re William.
WILLY (shaking Ben’s hand): Ben! I’ve been waiting for you so long! What’s the answer? How did you do it?
BEN: Oh, there’s a story in that.
(Linda enters the forestage, as of old, carrying the wash basket.) LINDA: Is this Ben?
BEN (gallantly): How do you do, my dear.
LINDA: Where’ve you been all these years? Willy’s always wondered why you...
WILLY (pulling Ben away from her impatiently): Where is Dad? Didn’t you follow him? How did you get started?
BEN: Well, I don’t know how much you remember.
WILLY: Well, I was just a baby, of course, only three or four years old...
BEN: Three years and eleven months.
WILLY: What a memory, Ben!
BEN: I have many enterprises, William, and I have never kept books.
WILLY: I remember I was sitting under the wagon in — was it
BEN: It was South Dakota, and I gave you a bunch of wild flowers.
WILLY: I remember you walking away down some open road.
BEN (laughing): I was going to find Father in Alaska.
WILLY: Where is he?
BEN: At that age I had a very faulty view of geography, William. I discovered after a few days that I was heading due south, so instead of Alaska, I ended up in Africa.
WILLY: The Gold Coast!
BEN: Principally diamond mines.
LINDA: Diamond mines!
BEN: Yes, my dear. But I’ve only a few minutes...
WILLY: No! Boys! Boys! (Young Biff and Happy appear.) Listen to this. This is your Uncle Ben, a great man! Tell my boys, Ben!
BEN: Why, boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. (He laughs.) And by God I was rich.
WILLY (to the boys): You see what I been talking about? The greatest things can happen!
BEN (glancing at his watch): I have an appointment in Ketchikan Tuesday week.
WILLY: No, Ben! Please tell about Dad. I want my boys to hear. I want them to know the kind of stock they spring from. All I remember is a man with a big beard, and I was in Mamma’s lap, sitting around a fire, and some kind of high music.
BEN: His flute. He played the flute.
WILLY: Sure, the flute, that’s right!
(New music is heard, a high, rollicking tune.) BEN: Father was a very great and a very wild-hearted man. We would start in Boston, and he’d toss the whole family into the wagon, and then he’d drive the team right across the country; through Ohio, and Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and all the Western states. And we’d stop in the towns and sell the flutes that he’d made on the way. Great inventor, Father. With one gadget he made more in a week than a man like you could make in a lifetime.
WILLY: That’s just the way I’m bringing them up, Ben — rugged, well liked, all-around.
BEN: Yeah? (To Biff.) Hit that, boy — hard as you can. (He pounds his stomach.)
BIFF: Oh, no, sir!
BEN (taking boxing stance): Come on, get to me! (He laughs)
BEN: Good boy! (Suddenly comes in, trips Biff, and stands over him, the point of his umbrella poised over Biffs eye.)
LINDA: Look out, Biff!
BEN (Patting Biffs knee): Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You’ll never get out of the jungle that way. (Taking Linda’s hand and bowing.) It was an honor and a pleasure to meet you, Linda.
LINDA (withdrawing her hand coldly, frightened): Have a nice trip.
BEN (to Willy): And good luck with your — what do you do?
BEN: Yes. Well... (He raises his hand in farewell to all.)
WILLY: No, Ben, I don’t want you to think... (He takes Ben’s arm to show him) It’s Brooklyn, I know, but we hunt too.
BEN: Really, now.
WILLY: Oh, sure, there’s snakes and rabbits and — that’s why I moved out here. Why Biff can fell any one of these trees in no time! Boys! Go right over to where they’re building the apartment house and get some sand. We’re gonna rebuild the entire front stoop right now! Watch this, Ben!
BIFF: Yes, sir! On the double, Hap!
HAPPY (as he and Biff run off): I lost weight, Pop, you notice?
(Charley enters in knickers, even before the boys are gone.)
CHARLEY: Listen, if they steal any more from that building the watchman’ll put the cops on them!
LINDA (to Willy): Don’t let Biff...
(Ben laughs lustily.) WILLY: You shoulda seen the lumber they brought home last week. At least a dozen six-by-tens worth all kinds a money.
CHARLEY: Listen, if that watchman...
WILLY: I gave them hell, understand. But I got a couple of fearless characters there.
CHARLEY: Willy, the jails are full of fearless characters.
BEN (clapping Willy on the back, with a laugh at Charley): And the stock exchange, friend!
WILLY (joining in Ben’s laughter): Where are the rest of your pants?
CHARLEY: My wife bought them.
WILLY: Now all you need is a golf club and you can go upstairs and go to sleep. (To Ben.) Great athlete! Between him and his son Bernard they can’t hammer a nail!
BERNARD (rushing in): The watchman’s chasing Biff!
WILLY (angrily): Shut up! He’s not stealing anything!
LINDA (alarmed, hurrying off left): Where is he? Biff, dear! (She exits.)
WILLY (moving toward the left, away from Ben): There’s nothing wrong. What’s the matter with you?
BEN: Nervy boy. Good!
WILLY (laughing): Oh, nerves of iron, that Biff!
CHARLEY: Don’t know what it is. My New England man comes back and he’s bleeding, they murdered him up there.
WILLY: It’s contacts, Charley, I got important contacts!
CHARLEY (sarcastically): Glad to hear it, Willy. Come in later, we’ll shoot a little casino. I’ll take some of your Portland money. (He laughs at Willy and exits.)
WILLY (turning to Ben): Business is bad, it’s murderous. But not for me, of course.
BEN: I’ll stop by on my way back to Africa.
WILLY (longingly): Can’t you stay a few days? You’re just what I need, Ben, because I — I have a fine position here, but I — well, Dad left when I was such a baby and I never had a chance to talk to him and I still feel — kind of temporary about myself.
BEN: I’ll be late for my train.
(They are at opposite ends of the stage.) WILLY: Ben, my boys — can’t we talk? They’d go into the jaws of hell for me see, but I...
BEN: William, you’re being first-rate with your boys. Outstanding, manly chaps!
WILLY (hanging on to his words): Oh, Ben, that’s good to hear! Because sometimes I’m afraid that I’m not teaching them the right kind of — Ben, how should I teach them?
BEN (giving great weight to each word, and with a certain vicious audacity): William, when I walked into the jungle, I was seventeen. When I walked out I was twenty-one. And, by God, I was rich! (He goes off into darkness around the right corner of the house.)
WILLY: ...was rich! That’s just the spirit I want to imbue them with! To walk into a jungle! I was right! I was right! I was right!
(Ben is gone, but Willy is still speaking to him as Linda, in nightgown and robe, enters the kitchen, glances around for Willy, then goes to the door of the house, looks out and sees him. Comes down to his left. He looks at her.) LINDA: Willy, dear? Willy?
WILLY: I was right!
LINDA: Did you have some cheese? (He can’t answer.) It’s very late, darling. Come to bed, heh?
WILLY (looking straight up): Gotta break your neck to see a star in this yard.
LINDA: You coming in?
WILLY: Whatever happened to that diamond watch fob? Remember? When Ben came from Africa that time? Didn’t he give me a watch fob with a diamond in it?
LINDA: You pawned it, dear. Twelve, thirteen years ago. For Biffs radio correspondence course.
WILLY: Gee, that was a beautiful thing. I’ll take a walk.
LINDA: But you’re in your slippers.
WILLY (starting to go around the house at the left): I was right! I was! (Half to Linda, as he goes, shaking his head.) What a man! There was a man worth talking to. I was right!