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Word Count: 717
Curiously most critics seem to accept at face value the assumption that at the conclusion of Arthur Millers classic drama Death of a Salesman Willy Loman determines to commit suicide because his older son Biff has at last openly and unequivocally declared his love for his father eg Aarnes 104 Bigsby 123 Hynes 286 Dukore 39 Yet a close examination of this crucial scene and the subsequent Requiem reveals a far greater degree of ambiguity than has been acknowledged Though Willy has obviously contemplated suicide for a long time he only makes his final irrevocable decision after the play has reached its undoubted emotional climax Biffs dramatic declaration to his fathers Pop Im nothing Im nothing Pop Cant you understand that Theres no spite in it anymore Im just what I am thats all Following this outburst Biff physically collapses in his father s arms and Miller carefully comments in his stage direction Biff s fury has spent itself and he breaks down sobbing holding on to Willy who dumbly fumbles for Biffs face The sons final words to his father in the play are simply Ill go in the morning Put him--put him to bed 133 At best this statement can only be regarded as a tepid and ambiguous expression of concern Yet Willys immediate reaction to it is to conclude Biff--he likes me To which Linda and Happy quickly respond with enthusiastic reinforcement He loves you Willy and Always did Pop 133 Their reaction suggests that Biffs feelings are obvious However Linda and Happy are repeatedly shown to be among the most deluded obtuse and mendacious characters in the play Earlier each had made equally enthusiastic and reinforcing--but dangerously inaccurate--comments on the supposed affection of Bill Oliver Biff s former boss for his departed employee When Biff outlined his plan to persuade Oliver to stake him to a business venture he insisted He did like me Always liked me Linda
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