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Death of a Salesman | Study Guide

Arthur Miller

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Act 2, Section 3

Professor Kristen Over of Northeastern Illinois University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 2, Section 3 of Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman.

Death of a Salesman | Act 2, Section 3 | Summary



The three Loman men meet at Frank's Chop House in the present.

Happy and Biff arrive independently at Frank's Chop House before their father arrives. In no time, Happy is picking up a woman and trying to procure one for his brother; both women are presumably prostitutes. Biff admits that he waited all day for Bill Oliver, who did not recognize him. In frustration, Biff went into Oliver's office and stole his expensive fountain pen. Distressed, Biff wants to come clean to his father and admit everything. Happy discourages him from telling the truth.

Willy arrives, and before Biff can confess as he wants, Willy confesses that Howard fired him. Pressured to keep things positive, Biff does not tell his father the truth. As Happy begins to weave a lie about Bill Oliver, Biff reluctantly goes along with it.


The history of long-standing family lies continues to be exposed. Biff and Willy compete with each other in their need to confess the truth of the day. However, Biff is defeated by his father. Willy's confession about his firing, nevertheless, is quickly overshadowed by self-deception as Willy and Happy work to create a new lie to cover the reality. Biff struggles between his own urge to finally come clean and the habit of spinning the truth to keep up the illusion of success. Here, Willy acts as a force who actively resists Biff's truth-telling.

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