Act 1 Part 1 (c.1942)
Willy Loman has returned home, troubled, because he continues to lose concentration whilst on the road. His speech is full of inconsistencies and contradictions, at time irate and illogical, at times conciliatory. His wife, Linda, is infinitely patient with him, constantly soothing and reassuring him. Already in this scene we are aware of Willys materialism being the major cause of his approaching lunacy.
Willy expresses his dissatisfaction at the path which his son, Biff, has taken in life: "he has yet to make thirty-five dollars a week!" Willy is a dreamer who cannot distinguish between his dreams and reality. The dreams that Willy has are intended to move in the audience recognition of the difficulty in achieving the American Dream.
Act 1 Part 2 (c.1942)
Here the focus is on the two boys, Biff and Happy. Their names are intended to evoke a picture of happy suburban life. In reality, they are both having difficulty bringing direction to their lives. The boys are talking in their bunk beds. Whilst they talk, they hear Willy muttering to himself downstairs. Biff describes the hurt he feels at his fathers scorn for him and the distance between them. Biff is a wanderer, never happy to stay in one place when spring arrives. Happy, although materially successful, feels that his wealth has gained him nothing - he still feels alone. The boys are angry that their fathers vocal reminiscences can be heard by their mother.
Act 1 Part 3 (c.1928)
Willy is lost in dreams. He is remembering a time when he returned from a trip to find the boys polishing the car. It is obvious that Biff is Willys favourite - he ignores Happy to play with Biff, a schoolboy football star, and warns him to be careful with the girls who will undoubtedly want to go out with him. Willy defends Biffs theft of a football from his college locker room, saying: "hes gotta practice with a regulation ball, doesnt he?". This is an early sign of Willy's skewed logic and values. However, he promises not to be away so much, and to take the boys with him next time he goes on a business trip around New England.
Act 1 Part 4 (c.1928)
Bernard, Charleys son and a friend of Biff comes over to remind Biff that they were supposed to be studying together. Willy takes Biffs side: "Whatre you talking about? With scholarships to three universities theyre gonna flunk him?" The recurrent them of being "well liked" comes up here:
"Willy: Bernard is not well liked, is he?
Biff: Hes liked, but hes not well-liked"
Happy, meanwhile, is a chubby child, desperately trying to gain his fathers attention with limited success: Im losing weight, you notice, pop?
Act 1 Part 5 (c.1928)
A warm and close picture is portrayed of Willy and Lindas relationship. Biff is desperate to be his mothers favorite also, and offers to help her with her washing. Willy brags to Linda about his successes on a trip to Boston and Providence. He wildly inflates the figure, but has to confess when Linda interrogates him more closely. The couple has spiralling debts, and Willy worries that he is not well liked, talks too much, and is a failure. Linda adds to Willys eventual madness by constantly reassuring him that he is a success: when the myth becomes too difficult to sustain, Willy cracks. As Willy speaks kindly to Linda, a woman appears, and the scene becomes more and more surreal. Linda has been mending some old stockings and as the woman leaves, she thanks Willy for the stockings he gave her. The woman