Act 2 (Charley’s Workplace, Present Day):
Bernard, now fully grown, beings in Charley’s workplace. Willy talk with Bernard, who tells him that he’s going to leave for Washington soon. Willy tells Bernard about the handle Expense Oliver, and asks Bernard his trick. Willy questions why Biff’s life ended after the Ebbets Field video game. Bernard asks why Willy did not tell Biff to go to summer season school so that he could pass math. Around that time, Biff disappeared for a month to see his dad in New England, and when he came back he burned his UVA tennis shoes. Bernard questions what took place in New England.
Charley enters and tells Willy that Bernard is going to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court. Charley provides Willy some cash. Willy complains about Howard shooting him, however Charley states that things like naming a child do not matter: the only thing that matters is what you can offer. Charley uses him a job once again, even though he confesses that he does not like Willy and Willy does not like him. Willy refuses once more, and Charley recognizes that the sticking point is jealousy. Charley offers him cash for insurance coverage, and Willy remarks that an individual deserves more dead than alive. Willy informs Charley to ask forgiveness to Bernard for him, and, on the edge of tears, tells Charley that he is his only friend.
Miller juxtaposes the unsuccessful Willy Loman with the great successes of Bernard and Charley in this segment. Miller continues to develop Willy Loman as a worthless and psychopathic character who hallucinates and yells to himself as he strolls through the hallway of an office complex. Bernard, in contrast, is an effective man, esteemed in his occupation and content with his personal life.
The representation of Bernard that Miller offers in this sector is ironic, thinking about Willy’s previous comparisons of Bernard to his sons. While Willy believed that Bernard’s more serious behavior and absence of “personality” would hobble him when he entered business world, the opposite appears to be the case. While Delighted is at best moderately effective and unhappy, and Biff is a straight-out failure, Bernard, whom Willy believed to have abilities not relevant to the business world, is an apparent success. Bernard himself even seems to realize that Willy’s expectations for his children have been thwarted, and keeps back from telling Willy the reason why he is going to Washington in order to prevent humiliating him.
Bernard likewise serves to illuminate the development of the relationship between Willy and Biff Loman. Bernard can determine a turning point in their relationship, mentioning a particular time after which Biff’s mindset toward his dad altered. Bernard seems to attribute this occurrence to Biff’s existing failure, declaring that Biff never ever wished to go to summertime school or graduate high school after visiting his father in New England. Miller makes it clear that Willy is directly responsible for Biff’s failures. According to Bernard’s analysis of the occasion, Biff is nearly self-destructive, ruining his chances for a stable future in order to spite his father.
Charley also represents a degree of success and serenity that Willy is not able to achieve. It is Charley who finest recognizes the issue with Willy’s approach of organisation: Willy wrongly believes that it is personality and intangible aspects that are important to success, while Charley understands that it remains in fact more concrete factors such as sales that figure out whether a male is successful. Charley also understands the degree to which Willy is jealous of him and his boy; he thinks that this is the factor that Willy will decline a task from him.
The relationship between Charley and Willy is not based upon affection, however rather on custom and a developed sense of responsibility. Charley admits that he does not like Willy and Willy dislikes him in return, but Charley is in fact Willy’s only good friend. This statement is one of the couple of minutes in the play in which Willy seems to realize and acknowledge his own worthless state. This is accompanied by Willy’s claim that a person is worth more dead than alive, which stresses Willy’s suicidal state and foreshadows events to come.