Guided Reading Questions

Please enter your answers in the text box. I recommend answering the questions on a separate Word document, and then pasting all the answers at once. You don’t need to copy the questions, but please include the Act numbers and question numbers.
Death of a Salesman Guided Reading Questions
Act I
What is the first sensory image Miller creates for the reader?
How does Miller visually introduce the motif of enclosed versus open spaces?
At the beginning of the action, from where is Willy returning? What is unusual about this homecoming?
What is it about Biff that upsets Willy?
What did Willy ask Biff that morning that Biff took as a criticism?
What problems in Willy’s life are we introduced to in this first scene?
What is the probable significance of Biff’s homecoming to the plot?
Why has Biff come home?
Happy confesses to what significant character flaws?
What is significant about the way Biff and Happy react to their father’s wandering mind and talking to himself?
How does Miller communicate the flashback to the audience?
What might the act of washing and waxing the car symbolize?
What is significant about Willy’s justification of Biff’s theft of the football?
Who is Ben and what does Willy think of him?
What is ironic about how Willy talks about his brother’s success? How does this suggest a major theme of the play?
What do we learn about Willy’s salary?
What is significant about the auto accidents that Willy has had?
What is the probable use for the piece of rubber hose that Linda found?
Why won’t Linda remove it so that Willy cannot follow through on his intention?
What does Linda mean when she says, “Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person”? How realistic is such a line from a character in a play like this?
How likely is it that Bill Oliver will remember Biff the way Biff believes he will be remembered?
What is plot point one that ends Act I and thrusts the characters into Act II? On what note of suspense, intense hope, or impending doom does the act end?
Act II
What is the source of the optimism at the beginning of this act?
The scene with Howard, Willy, and the tape recorder goes on for nearly two pages. What is the purpose of this scene?
What purpose does Howard serve for the audience?
What does Dave Singleman represent for Willy?
How accurately do you suppose Willy is remembering Dave Singleman? What is significant about Singleman’s name?
How might Willy’s comparing himself to an orange be interpreted as a criticism of the capitalistic system?
Judging from what Bernard says, what took the life out of Biff? What about Bernard irks Willy?
What important exposition do we learn from Bernard?
What is significant about the way Biff’s meeting went with Bill Oliver?
What suspense still lingers as we mount toward an obvious climax?
The climax of the play will obviously have something to do with the characters’ finally giving up their illusions and facing the truth of the past. Who seems to be the character who is going to make this happen?
How do Willy and Happy prevent him from doing this?
How does this final flashback represent the convergence of plotlines in climax?
What is the lowest point of the sons’ relationship with their father?
What do the seeds and Willy’s “planting” a “garden” represent?
What occurs in the absolute moment of climax that determines this play will be a tragedy?
What is the guaranteed, “gilt-edged” proposition to which Willy refers?
What is the plot point that ends Act II and thrusts us into the Requiem?
What do we realize is the irony of the title of the play?

What is a requiem? Why is this section called a Requiem?
Are we surprised that no one has come to the funeral? Why or why not?
What is ironic about Linda’s wondering why no one came to the funeral?
What does the ending of the play suggest is in store for Happy?

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