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The Requiem Begins With Linda English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1630 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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A requiem according to freedicitionary.com is a mass celebrated for the dead. The requiem begins with Linda, Biff, Happy, Charley and Bernard at Willy’s funeral. It starts with Linda saying that she doesn’t understand how no one else showed up for Willy’s funeral, and where were all those people who he had sold to over the years. She them implies that maybe they blamed him, for taking his own life perhaps. Charley then tries to reassure her that no one blames him for him failures. By stating on page 137 that… Linda goes on to say that for the first time in years they were free from debt and all that Willy needed was a little salary. Charley proceeds to say that no man only needs a little salary.

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They continue to reminisce that Willy has always seemed happier working on the house. Biff said on page 138 that, “…there’s more of him in that front stoop than in all the sales he ever made.” and Charley agreed stating that “yeah. He was a happy man with a batch of cement.” The requiem shows the constant battle of Happy to still defend his father and Biff expressing that his father did not know who he was. It is in this however that we see the understanding and compassion that Charley had for Willy, as he tries to explain how life must have seem for Willy. It is also here that we see how Willy over the years has affected Linda’s state of mind.

This final act’s purpose is for Linda, Biff, Happy and Charley to express their sentiment to and about Willy with a freedom that they did not necessarily have when he was alive. It is the act through which their final display of emotion is shown. Page 139 where Linda says, “Forgive me, dear. I can’t cry. I don’t know what it is but I can’t cry.” This act focuses on Willy’s life and allows the reader through Charley to understand how life must have been for Willy. This act is successful in that it allows the reader to understand and begin to feel sympathy for Willy. Not only does it do that but the emotional tension of Linda and her present state of mind is shown throughout this act.

Charley in this act says that, “No man only needs a little salary.” By this he could have meant that money alone is not enough to sustain any man. Saying this could have been in reference to Happy who although has a bit of money is still in his own way lost, and Willy who in his quest for money had not only destroyed his family but also ultimately him life. He was probably trying to tell them that the traditional values of family had been lost and instead of focusing on monetary gain values such as discipline, love, honesty and loyalty would have been sufficient to keep the family together.

Charlie says on page 138 that,

“Nobody dast blame this man. You don’t understand: Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt through a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back- that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and your finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”

These words are extremely significant since not only do they show the extent to which Charley understood the struggles and stress that Willy had to endue throughout his life but also that it shows the type of man that Charley perceived Willy to be. Also he outlines through this, the instability of Willy’s job and his determination to make better of himself regardless of the circumstances. The words “he did not but a bolt through a nut” and “he don’t tell you law and give you medicine.” Tells that he didn’t have any set skills and that his job was based not only on luck but also how other perceived him. So if making himself seem successful was the way for him to not only make sales but also feel good about himself he would do it.

Willy’s job is not only about how he sells product as a salesman but also how he sells himself as a person which can be seen on page 138 where biff said to Charley that “the man didn’t know who he was.” When it comes to the significance of charley’s words they are significant because they allow the reader to see how much Charley understood Willy, also to a greater extend Charley’s word allows the reader to feel some sort of sympathy for Willy.

The last speech by Linda is one that is ironic in the sense where she always seem express herself and at the most significant point where her emotions should be shown she is unable to display how she is really feeling as can be seen on page 139 where Linda said “I don’t know what it is but I can’t cry.” It is ironic that Linda seems to feel that Willy is on another trip when in truth he is beyond the point of no return because he is dead. Also shown on page 139 “it seems to me that you’re just on another trip.” The same way in which Willy was unsuccessful with his sales when he lived as a salesman is the same way he is unsuccessful in an effort to provide for his through death. So not only did he fail to provide for them while he was alive but also his attempt in death was also a failure which is ironic. It can be said that Willy not only failed in providing for his family but he also failed as a father figure and as a man as the main task of the males figures in a family is to provide.

At the point in Linda’s last speech on page 139 where she said “we’re free…we’re free…” has two meanings one in which is the literal that they are now free from debt and the payment of mortgages and their dentist bill and sadly enough Willy is not there to see it. And also a second meaning which is significant as when Willy was around he always seem to what is controversy and always seem to be the centre of conflict within the household and also the emotional abuser of Linda and now that he is dead and gone there is also a sense of them being free from all that.

Themes outlined

Throughout the requiem a number of themes are made visible, the most dominant themes are death and despair. This is shown by Linda on page 139 “why did u ever do that? Help me, Willy, I can’t cry. Which shows that Linda is in disbelief that Willy is actually dead and her pain is not able to be vented as she does not know or is incapable of letting out her unbearable sorrow?

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The requiem also displays men in society where Linda says on page 137 ‘he only needed a little salary.” And Charley replied by saying “no man only needs a little salary” which shows that no man, in order to take care of his family and financial needs, needs more than a little salary as he also has desires to treat himself and his family and therefore having a little salary this would not be possible to meet the demands or needs of his family financially.

The theme of male and female relationship is evident on page 138 where Biffs statement outlined the traditional roles of men in taking care of the stannous tasks around the house.

“There were a lot of nice days. When he’d come home from a trip; or on Sundays, making the stoop; finishing the cellar; putting on the new porch; when he built the extra bathroom; and put up the garage. You know something, Charley, there’s more of him in that front stoop than in all the sales he ever made.”

Then Charley went on saying that “He was a happy man with a batch of cement.”

Another theme which is evident is the theme of dreams and aspirations and in this case of Willy the American dream. This is on page 138 where Charley statement shows that Willy had dreams of a better life or the life which he saw was better for him being able to relax in his accomplishments and strive, and it was this dream that kept him going on a day to day basis before his unfortunate death. ” He I a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine.” This tells that Willy’s day to day life revolved around his dream of having a better life and this was what motivated his actions. ” and when they start not smiling back-that’s an earthquake.” Meaning that when Willy stopped dreaming it would result in his life process being discontinued and everything will go downwards from their and that is what happened resulting in Willy’s death.

The theme of self realization is also evident where Biff said on page 138 ” I know who I am kid” it could be said that the death of Willy is the birth of Biff taking the journey to being the person who he wants to be. All along he lived on the expectations of his father thus being held in bondage of being expected to fulfill his father’s dreams and with the death of Willy was the death of that bondage.

It is symbolic where Linda says on page 139 that “I don’t know what it is but I can’t cry.” This is symbolic as it shows unrealized emotion and also where Linda says “It seems to me that you’re just on another trip.” This says that Linda is in disbelief that Willy is dead.

Another symbol that is visible on page 139 where Linda said that ” I never had a chance to say goodbye which symbolizes that there was no closure in the period of Willy’s death and as a result Linda may feel that Willy abandoned her.


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