The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The relation of Atheism to 'The Death of a Salesman'

Hello Class...

This lesson we started of by discussing the homework from the previous lesson, which was comment on our views about the Atheism tapes on Esmeralda's blog post.We split into groups of three and thought of one argument that we found can relate to the play.
Here is what we came up with:
'Losing faith'- people can easily change despite strong beliefs.
Adversity can shake faith.
Religion can help in some situations.
Without moral authority life could be seen as pointless.

We then talked about Arthur Miller's view that having belief in God is a 'talent', this relates to 'The Death of a Salesman' in the sense that Arthur Miller had lost faith in God just like Willy Loman had lost faith in the American Dream.

Mr Chatterley then presented the class with the word introspect, the following definition was provided by :
1. verb (used without object)- to practice introspection; consider one's own internal state or feelings.
2. verb (used with object)- to look into or examine (one's own mind, feelings, etc.).

We were then asked the question: "Why is religion not overly mentioned in 'Death of a Salesman'?". Below is a selection of the answers given.
Roman:Religion was not important.
Tamsin: Religion was irrelevant, Miller would be contradicting himself.
Aisha: Miller wanted to be different from other playwrights.
Saways: Atheism was common in the recession, faith was lost in the moral authority, just the way Willy lost faith in Capitalism and the American Dream.
Chris C: Miller being let down by religion is similar to Willy being let down by Capitalism, as he lost everything he had been working for at once.
Daniel: Holy books were only written so that events would be remembered, Willy wants to be remembered by everyone.

Something interesting that we came across was the fact that the man who inspired Willy Loman to become a salesman was called Dave Singleman, this is no coincidence because as Mr Chatterley pointed out that Arthur Miller was a man who thought through every detail of his work. The name suggests that this truly successful salesman lead a lonely existence, which implies that in order for Willy to reach his dream he would have to not be a part of a family as the two things clash.

We then looked at the word 'Meme' which means :
an idea or element of social behaviour passed on through generations in a culture, esp by imitation . (Definition once again courtesy of word links into the theory of capitalism because it is a self-reproducing belief.

Another idea that we were faced with was 'to die for your beliefs', we had to think about whether Willy was a martyr or not.

Then as a class we read pages 73-91 of the play.

During pauses in between reading we answered questions about what certain behaviour implies about the characters, in particular:
The boys lying to impress girls.
The way Willy talks about Oliver (the man Biff was supposed to have a meeting with)
Willy's unusual exit.

The last thing we discussed was the use of mobile concurrency during the restaurant scene, where Willy's argument with Biff triggered his flashback of Biff flunking maths during his senior year of high school.

Now for the homework, there is a choice of two activities with the title"These boys are useless..."

1. Write a mini-essay on the topic.
2. Imagine you overhear the Loman's neighbours talking about the boys like this and write a script about what they would say.

The homework is due in next lesson (Friday October 15th)

Lastly, for anyone who has not seen the Atheism tapes here is a link to them :

Comments will be highly appreciated.
Much love, Aleksandra


  1. Thanks Aleksandra; very thorough. And well done for putting that link on.

  2. Good blog.

    Looking forward to reading the end of the book. I reckon when Willy dies he might take one of the boys with him.

    Daniel C.

  3. Am stilling trying to link the book to AM's believes. I think he rejects religion to show life from a different prespective and that we as humans always create ideology to keep us going and in the book is the american dream. great post aleks

  4. good post Alex it tells us what we did in that lesson to help anyone who was not here

  5. Nice, clear blog post Aleksandra.

    Aisha, Arthur Miller's views were certainly hard to link to `Death of a salesman`

    I think that Willy's mobile concurrency is happening more frequent, possibly meaning that his mind-state is deteriorating far worse than we thought would happen. In effect to this, I think it will have devastating consequences for the Loman family.

    Chris W

  6. I agree with Aisha and Chris on linking Arthur Miller's views on life/religion to the play, it is indeed very challenging however there are quite a few ideas that we could link to the play.

    Also I am intrigued about Arthur Miller's
    introspective personality as I think that he attempted to personify his perception of what the American Dream has become through the character of Dave Singleman. (I thought it was a clever way of showing this)


  7. Oh & really good post Aleks :)- Was clear and easy to understand.


  8. Really good post Alecks

    I think the boys are one of the main reasons why Willy will die at the end of the play and the other main reason is his belief in the American Dream

    Esmeralda ;)

  9. great post Aleks, it conveys everything we did in lesson as well as being very informative to those people who weren't in. I'm pretty sure that if I didn't already know there are clear, disernible links between AT and DOAS then this post would make me realise them...
    Also, I agree with Esmeralda about Willy's belief in the American Dream being one of his ultimate downfalls. I think it's less about his boys seen as how he's been on the edge for years, they're just the straw that will eventually break the Camel's back.

    Daniel J.

  10. I think willy will die at the end of the play when he finally realises his downfall and admits it. instead of getting flustered and thinking about the past everytime a difficult situation arises he will acknowledge his tragic flaw and ultimately lead to his tragic demise.

    hopefully this aint a bs comment sir :P


  11. well done aleks, i think willy is on his way to his downfall....he gone dye!!!!


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