Maj 402. Modern english literature professor George Mitrevski contents



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HAPPY: What’d you do?

BIFF (with great tension and wonder): Well, he left, see. And the secretary went out. I was all alone in the waiting room. I don’t know what came over me, Hap. The next thing I know I’m in his office — paneled walls, everything. I can’t explain it. I — Hap, I took his fountain pen.

HAPPY: Geez, did he catch you?

BIFF: I ran out. I ran down all eleven flights. I ran and ran and ran.

HAPPY: That was an awful dumb — what’d you do that for?

BIFF (agonized): I don’t know, I just — wanted to take something, I don’t know. You gotta help me, Hap, I’m gonna tell Pop.

HAPPY: You crazy? What for?

BIFF: Hap, he’s got to understand that I’m not the man somebody lends that kind of money to. He thinks I’ve been spiting him all these years and it’s eating him up.

HAPPY: That’s just it. You tell him something nice.

BIFF: I can’t.

HAPPY: Say you got a lunch date with Oliver tomorrow.

BIFF: So what do I do tomorrow?

HAPPY: You leave the house tomorrow and come back at night and say Oliver is thinking it over. And he thinks it over for a couple of weeks, and gradually it fades away and nobody’s the worse.

BIFF: But it’ll go on forever!

HAPPY: Dad is never so happy as when he’s looking forward to something!
(Willy enters.)
HAPPY: Hello, scout!

WILLY: Gee, I haven’t been here in years!


(Stanley has followed Willy in and sets a chair for him. Stanley starts off but Happy stops him.)
HAPPY: Stanley!
(Stanley stands by, waiting for an order.)
BIFF (going to Willy with guilt, as to an invalid): Sit down, Pop.

You want a drink?

WILLY: Sure, I don’t mind.

BIFF: Let’s get a load on.

WILLY: You look worried.

BIFF: N-no. (To Stanley.) Scotch all around. Make it doubles.

STANLEY: Doubles, right. (He goes.)

WILLY: You had a couple already, didn’t you?

BIFF: Just a couple, yeah.

WILLY: Well, what happened, boy? (Nodding affirmatively, with a smile.) Everything go all right?

BIFF (takes a breath, then reaches out and grasps Willy’s hand): Pal... (He is smiling bravely, and Willy is smiling too.) I had an experience today.

HAPPY: Terrific, Pop.

WILLY: That so? What happened?

BIFF (high, slightly alcoholic, above the earth): I’m going to tell you everything from first to last. It’s been a strange day. (Silence. He looks around, composes himself as best he can, but his breath keeps breaking the rhythm of his voice.) I had to wait quite a while for him, and...

WILLY: Oliver?

BIFF: Yeah, Oliver. All day, as a matter of cold fact. And a lot of instances — facts, Pop, facts about my life came back to me. Who was it, Pop? Who ever said I was a salesman with Oliver?

WILLY: Well, you were.

BIFF: No, Dad, I was a shipping clerk.

WILLY: But you were practically...

BIFF (with determination): Dad, I don’t know who said it first, but I was never a salesman for Bill Oliver.

WILLY: What’re you talking about?

BIFF: Let’s hold on to the facts tonight, Pop. We’re not going to get anywhere bullin’ around. I was a shipping clerk.

WILLY (angrily): All right, now listen to me...

BIFF: Why don’t you let me finish?

WILLY: I’m not interested in stories about the past or any crap of that kind because the woods are burning, boys, you understand? There’s a big blaze going on all around. I was fired today.

BIFF (shocked): How could you be?

WILLY: I was fired, and I’m looking for a little good news to tell your mother, because the woman has waited and the woman has suffered. The gist of it is that I haven’t got a story left in my head, Biff. So don’t give me a lecture about facts and aspects. I am not interested. Now what’ve you got to say to me? (Stanley enters with three drinks. They wait until he leaves.)

WILLY: Did you see Oliver?

BIFF: Jesus, Dad!

WILLY: You mean you didn’t go up there?

HAPPY: Sure he went up there.

BIFF: I did. I — saw him. How could they fire you?

WILLY (on the edge of his chair): What kind of a welcome did he give you?

BIFF: He won’t even let you work on commission?

WILLY: I’m out! (Driving.) So tell me, he gave you a warm welcome?

HAPPY: Sure, Pop, sure!

BIFF (driven): Well, it was kind of...

WILLY: I was wondering if he’d remember you. (To Happy.) Imagine, man doesn’t see him for ten, twelve years and gives him that kind of a welcome!

HAPPY: Damn right!

BIFF (trying to return to the offensive): Pop, look...

WILLY: You know why he remembered you, don’t you? Because you impressed him in those days.

BIFF: Let’s talk quietly and get this down to the facts, huh?

WILLY (as though Biff had been interrupting): Well, what 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.

WILLY: Don’t interrupt. (To Biff) How’d he react to the Florida idea?

BIFF: Dad, will you give me a minute to explain?

WILLY: I’ve been waiting for you to explain since I sat down here! What happened? He took you into his office and what?

BIFF: Well — I talked. And — and he listened, see.

WILLY: Famous for the way he listens, y’know. What was his answer?

BIFF: His answer was — (He breaks off, suddenly angry.) Dad, you’re not letting me tell you what I want to tell you!

WILLY (accusing, angered): You didn’t see him, did you?

BIFF: I did see him!

WILLY: What’d you insult him or something? You insulted him, didn’t you?

BIFF: Listen, will you let me out of it, will you just let me out of it!

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.)
YOUNG BERNARD (frantically): Mrs. Loman, Mrs. Loman!

HAPPY: Tell him what happened!

BIFF (to Happy): Shut up and leave me alone!

WILLY: No, no! You had to go and flunk math!

BIFF: What math? What’re you talking about?

YOUNG BERNARD: Mrs. Loman, Mrs. Loman!


(Linda appears in the house, as of old.)
WILLY (wildly): Math, math, math!

BIFF: Take it easy, Pop!

YOUNG BERNARD: Mrs. Loman!

WILLY (furiously): If you hadn’t flunked you’d’ve been set by now!

BIFF: Now, look, I’m gonna tell you what happened, and you’re going to listen to me.

YOUNG BERNARD: Mrs. Loman!

BIFF: I waited six hours...

HAPPY: What the hell are you saying?

BIFF: I kept sending in my name but he wouldn’t see me. So finally he... (He continues unheard as light fades low on the restaurant.)

YOUNG BERNARD: Biff flunked math!

LINDA: No!

YOUNG BERNARD: Birnbaum flunked him! They won’t graduate him!

LINDA: But they have to. He’s gotta go to the university. Where is he? Biff! Biff!

YOUNG BERNARD: No, he left. He went to Grand Central.

LINDA: Grand — You mean he went to Boston!

YOUNG BERNARD: Is Uncle Willy in Boston?

LINDA: Oh, maybe Willy can talk to the teacher. Oh, the poor, poor boy!
(Light on house area snaps out.)

BIFF (at the table, now audible, holding up a gold fountain pen):... so I’m washed up with Oliver, you understand? Are you listening to me?

WILLY (at a loss): Yeah, sure. If you hadn’t flunked...

BIFF: Flunked what? What’re you talking about?

WILLY: Don’t blame everything on me! I didn’t flunk math — you did! What pen?

HAPPY: That was awful dumb, Biff, a pen like that is worth —

WILLY (seeing the pen for the first time): You took Oliver’s pen?

BIFF (weakening): Dad, I just explained it to you.

WILLY: You stole Bill Oliver’s fountain pen!

BIFF: I didn’t exactly steal it! That’s just what I’ve been explaining to you!

HAPPY: He had it in his hand and just then Oliver walked in, so he got nervous and stuck it in his pocket!

WILLY: My God, Biff!

BIFF: I never intended to do it, Dad!

OPERATOR’S VOICE: Standish Arms, good evening!

WILLY (shouting): I’m not in my room!

BIFF (frightened): Dad, what’s the matter? (He and Happy stand up.)

OPERATOR: Ringing Mr. Loman for you!

WILLY: I’m not there, stop it!

BIFF (horrified, gets down on one knee before Willy): Dad, I’ll make good, I’ll make good. (Willy tries to get to his feet. Biff holds him down.) Sit down now.

WILLY: No, you’re no good, you’re no good for anything.

BIFF: I am, Dad, I’ll find something else, you understand? Now don’t worry about anything. (He holds up Willy’s face.) Talk to me, Dad.

OPERATOR: Mr. Loman does not answer. Shall I page him?

WILLY (attempting to stand, as though to rush and silence the Operator): No, no, no!

HAPPY: He’ll strike something, Pop.

WILLY: No, no...

BIFF (desperately, standing over Willy): Pop, listen! Listen to me!

I’m telling you something good. Oliver talked to his partner about the Florida idea. You listening? He — he talked to his partner, and he came to me... I’m going to be all right, you hear? Dad, listen to me, he said it was just a question of the amount!

WILLY: Then you... got it?

HAPPY: He’s gonna be terrific, Pop!

WILLY (trying to stand): Then you got it, haven’t you? You got it! You got it!

BIFF (agonized, holds Willy down): No, no. Look, Pop. I’m supposed to have lunch with them tomorrow. I’m just telling you this so you’ll know that I can still make an impression, Pop. And I’ll make good somewhere, but I can’t go tomorrow, see?

WILLY: Why not? You simply...

BIFF: But the pen, Pop!

WILLY: You give it to him and tell him it was an oversight!

HAPPY: Sure, have lunch tomorrow!

BIFF: I can’t say that...

WILLY: You were doing a crossword puzzle and accidentally used his pen!

BIFF: Listen, kid, I took those balls years ago, now I walk in with his fountain pen? That clinches it, don’t you see? I can’t face him like that! I’ll try elsewhere.

PAGE’S VOICE: Paging Mr. Loman!

WILLY: Don’t you want to be anything?

BIFF: Pop, how can I go back?

WILLY: You don’t want to be anything, is that what’s behind it?

BIFF (now angry at Willy for not crediting his sympathy): Don’t take it that way! You think it was easy walking into that office after what I’d done to him? A team of horses couldn’t have dragged me back to Bill Oliver!

WILLY: Then why’d you go?

BIFF: Why did I go? Why did I go! Look at you! Look at what’s become of you!
(Off left, The Woman laughs.)

WILLY: Biff, you’re going to go to that lunch tomorrow, or...

BIFF: I can’t go. I’ve got no appointment!

HAPPY: Biff, for... !

WILLY: Are you spiting me?

BIFF: Don’t take it that way! Goddammit!

WILLY (strikes Biff and falters away from the table): You rotten little louse! Are you spiting me?

THE WOMAN: Someone’s at the door, Willy!

BIFF: I’m no good, can’t you see what I am?

HAPPY (separating them): Hey, you’re in a restaurant! Now cut it out, both of you! (The girls enter.) Hello, girls, sit down.


(The Woman laughs, off left.)
MISS FORSYTHE: I guess we might as well. This is Letta.

THE WOMAN: Willy, are you going to wake up?

BIFF (ignoring Willy): How’re ya, miss, sit down. What do you drink?

MISS FORSYTHE: Letta might not be able to stay long.

LETTA: I gotta get up very early tomorrow. I got jury duty. I’m so excited! Were you fellows ever on a jury?

BIFF: No, but I been in front of them! (The girls laugh.) This is my father.

LETTA: Isn’t he cute? Sit down with us, Pop.

HAPPY: Sit him down, Biff!

BIFF (going to him): Come on, slugger, drink us under the table.

To hell with it! Come on, sit down, pal.


(On Biffs last insistence, Willy is about to sit.)
THE WOMAN (now urgently): Willy are you going to answer the door!
(The Woman’s call pulls Willy back. He starts right, befuddled.)
BIFF: Hey, where are you going?

WILLY: Open the door.

BIFF: The door?

WILLY: The washroom... the door... where’s the door?

BIFF (leading Willy to the left): Just go straight down.
(Willy moves left.)
THE WOMAN: Willy, Willy, are you going to get up, get up, get up, get up?
(Willy exits left.)
LETTA: I think it’s sweet you bring your daddy along.

MISS FORSYTHE: Oh, he isn’t really your father!

BIFF (at left, turning to her resentfully): Miss Forsythe, you’ve just seen a prince walk by. A fine, troubled prince. A hardworking, unappreciated prince. A pal, you understand? A good companion. Always for his boys.

LETTA: That’s so sweet.

HAPPY: Well, girls, what’s the program? We’re wasting time.

Come on, Biff. Gather round. Where would you like to go?

BIFF: Why don’t you do something for him?

HAPPY: Me!

BIFF: Don’t you give a damn for him, Hap?

HAPPY: What’re you talking about? I’m the one who —

BIFF: I sense it, you don’t give a good goddam about him. (He takes the rolled-up hose from his pocket and puts it on the table in front of Happy.) Look what I found in the cellar, for Christ’s sake. How can you bear to let it go on?

HAPPY: Me? Who goes away? Who runs off and —

BIFF: Yeah, but he doesn’t mean anything to you. You could help him — I can’t! Don’t you understand what I’m talking about? He’s going to kill himself, don’t you know that?

HAPPY: Don’t I know it! Me!

BIFF: Hap, help him! Jesus... help him... Help me, help me, I can’t bear to look at his face! (Ready to weep, he hurries out, up right.)

HAPPY (starting after him): Where are you going?

MISS FORSYTHE: What’s he so mad about?

HAPPY: Come on, girls, we’ll catch up with him.

MISS FORSYTHE (as Happy pushes her out): Say, I don’t like that temper of his!

HAPPY: He’s just a little overstrung, he’ll be all right!

WILLY (off left, as The Woman laughs): Don’t answer! Don’t answer!

LETTA: Don’t you want to tell your father...

HAPPY: No, that’s not my father. He’s just a guy. Come on, we’ll catch Biff, and, honey, we’re going to paint this town! Stanley, where’s the check! Hey, Stanley!
(They exit. Stanley looks toward left.)
STANLEY (calling to Happy indignantly): Mr. Loman! Mr. Loman!
(Stanley picks up a chair and follows them off. Knocking is heard off left. The Woman enters, laughing. Willy follows her. She is in a black slip; he is buttoning his shirt. Raw, sensuous music accompanies their speech)
WILLY: Will you stop laughing? Will you stop?

THE WOMAN: Aren’t you going to answer the door? He’ll wake the whole hotel.

WILLY: I’m not expecting anybody.

THE WOMAN: Whyn’t you have another drink, honey, and stop being so damn self-centered?

WILLY: I’m so lonely.

THE WOMAN: You know you ruined me, Willy? From now on, whenever you come to the office, I’ll see that you go right through to the buyers. No waiting at my desk anymore, Willy. You ruined me.

WILLY: That’s nice of you to say that.

THE WOMAN: Gee, you are self-centered! Why so sad? You are the saddest, self-centeredest soul I ever did see-saw. (She laughs. He kisses her.) Come on inside, drummer boy. It’s silly to be dressing in the middle of the night. (As knocking is heard.) Aren’t you going to answer the door?

WILLY: They’re knocking on the wrong door.

THE WOMAN: But I felt the knocking. And he heard us talking in here. Maybe the hotel’s on fire!

WILLY (his terror rising): It’s a mistake.

THE WOMAN: Then tell him to go away!

WILLY: There’s nobody there.

THE WOMAN: It’s getting on my nerves, Willy. There’s somebody standing out there and it’s getting on my nerves!

WILLY (pushing her away from him): All right, stay in the bathroom here, and don’t come out. I think there’s a law in Massachusetts about it, so don’t come out. It may be that new room clerk. He looked very mean. So don’t come out. It’s a mistake, there’s no fire.
(The knocking is heard again. He takes a few steps away from her, and she vanishes into the wing. The light follows him, and now he is facing Young Biff, who carries a suitcase. Biff steps toward him. The music is gone.)
BIFF: Why didn’t you answer?

WILLY: Biff! What are you doing in Boston?

BIFF: Why didn’t you answer? I’ve been knocking for five minutes, I called you on the phone...

WILLY: I just heard you. I was in the bathroom and had the door shut. Did anything happen home?

BIFF: Dad — I let you down.

WILLY: What do you mean?

BIFF: Dad...

WILLY: Biffo, what’s this about? (Putting his arm around Biff.) Come on, let’s go downstairs and get you a malted.

BIFF: Dad, I flunked math.

WILLY: Not for the term?

BIFF: The term. I haven’t got enough credits to graduate.

WILLY: You mean to say Bernard wouldn’t give you the answers?

BIFF: He did, he tried, but I only got a sixty-one.

WILLY: And they wouldn’t give you four points?

BIFF: Birnbaum refused absolutely. I begged him, Pop, but he won’t give me those points. You gotta talk to him before they close the school. Because if he saw the kind of man you are, and you just talked to him in your way, I’m sure he’d come through for me. The class came right before practice, see, and I didn’t go enough. Would you talk to him? He’d like you, Pop. You know the way you could talk.

WILLY: You’re on. We’ll drive right back.

BIFF: Oh, Dad, good work! I’m sure he’ll change it for you!

WILLY: Go downstairs and tell the clerk I’m checkin’ out. Go right down.

BIFF: Yes, sir! See, the reason he hates me, Pop — one day he was late for class so I got up at the blackboard and imitated him. I crossed my eyes and talked with a lithp.

WILLY (laughing): You did? The kids like it?

BIFF: They nearly died laughing!

WILLY: Yeah? What’d you do?

BIFF: The thquare root of thixthy twee is... (Willy bursts out laughing; Biff joins him.) And in the middle of it he walked in! (Willy laughs and The Woman joins in offstage.)

WILLY (without hesitation): Hurry downstairs and...

BIFF: Somebody in there?

WILLY: No, that was next door. (The Woman laughs offstage.)

BIFF: Somebody got in your bathroom!

WILLY: No, it’s the next room, there’s a party —

THE WOMAN (enters, laughing; she lisps this): Can I come in? There’s something in the bathtub, Willy, and it’s moving! (Willy looks at Biff, who is staring open-mouthed and horrified at The Woman.)

WILLY: Ah — you better go back to your room. They must be finished painting by now. They’re painting her room so I let her take a shower here. Go back, go back... (He pushes her.)

THE WOMAN (resisting): But I’ve got to get dressed, Willy, I can’t —

WILLY: Get out of here! Go back, go back... (Suddenly striding for the ordinary.) This is Miss Francis, Biff, she’s a buyer. They’re painting her room. Go back, Miss Francis, go back...

THE WOMAN: But my clothes, I can’t go out naked in the hall!

WILLY (pushing her offstage): Get outa here! Go back, go back!



(Biff slowly sits down on his suitcase as the argument continues offstage.)
THE WOMAN: Where’s my stockings? You promised me stockings, Willy!

WILLY: I have no stockings here!

THE WOMAN: You had two boxes of size nine sheers for me, and I want them!

WILLY: Here, for God’s sake, will you get outa here!

THE WOMAN (enters holding a box of stockings): I just hope there’s nobody in the hall. That’s all I hope. (To Biff.) Are you football or baseball?

BIFF: Football.

THE WOMAN (angry, humiliated): That’s me too. G’night. (She snatches her clothes from Willy, and walks out.)

WILLY (after a pause): Well, better get going. I want to get to the school first thing in the morning. Get my suits out of the closet. I’ll get my valise. (Biff doesn’t move.) What’s the matter! (Biff remains motionless, tears falling.) She’s a buyer. Buys for J. H. Simmons. She lives down the hall — they’re painting. You don’t imagine — (He breaks off. After a pause.) Now listen, pal, she’s just a buyer. She sees merchandise in her room and they have to keep it looking just so... (Pause. Assuming command.) All right, get my suits. (Biff doesn’t move.) Now stop crying and do as I say. I gave you an order. Biff, I gave you an order! Is that what you do when I give you an order? How dare you cry! (Putting his arm around Biff.) Now look, Biff, when you grow up you’ll understand about these things. You mustn’t — you mustn’t overemphasize a thing like this. I’ll see Birnbaum first thing in the morning.

BIFF: Never mind.

WILLY (getting down beside Biff): Never mind! He’s going to give you those points. I’ll see to it.

BIFF: He wouldn’t listen to you.

WILLY: He certainly will listen to me. You need those points for the U. of Virginia.

BIFF: I’m not going there.

WILLY: Heh? If I can’t get him to change that mark you’ll make it up in summer school. You’ve got all summer to —

BIFF (his weeping breaking from him): Dad...

WILLY (infected by it): Oh, my boy...

BIFF: Dad...

WILLY: She’s nothing to me, Biff. I was lonely, I was terrible lonely.

BIFF: You — you gave her Mama’s stockings! (His tears break through and he rises to go.)

WILLY (grabbing for Biff): I gave you an order!

BIFF: Don’t touch me, you — liar!

WILLY: Apologize for that!

BIFF: You fake! You phony little fake! You fake! (Overcome, he turns quickly and weeping fully goes out with his suitcase. Willy is left on the floor on his knees.)

WILLY: I gave you an order! Biff, come back here or I’ll beat you!

Come back here! I’ll whip you!
(Stanley comes quickly in from the right and stands in front of

Willy.)
WILLY (shouts at Stanley): I gave you an order...

STANLEY: Hey, let’s pick it up, pick it up, Mr. Loman. (He helps Willy to his feet.) Your boys left with the chippies. They said they’ll see you home.


(A second waiter watches some distance away.)
WILLY: But we were supposed to have dinner together.
(Music is heard, Willy’s theme.)
STANLEY: Can you make it?

WILLY: I’ll — sure, I can make it. (Suddenly concerned about his clothes.) Do I — I look all right?

STANLEY: Sure, you look all right. (He flicks a speck off Willy’s lapel.)



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