Death of a Salesman Symbols. “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller is a play with a lot of symbols and and themes. This play is wrought with symbolism from the beginning of it, from the first, opening scene. Symbolism is a very important part of this play, it illustrates Willy’s whole life, all his successes and failures in life. A lot of the symbols are either symbolizing something wanted but impossible to reach, or some goals in life and Willy’s future. Symbols could be found almost everywhere in the book. They are representing Willy’s desire, attempts to be a successful man and his impending failure.
There are three main symbols in this play: Rubber Hose/Car, Africa/Alaska/The West, and Stockings. All of them symbolize different things, Africa/Alaska/The West- are the symbols of success and richness, Stockings-are symbols of infidelity and betrayal, and Rubber Hose/Car- are the symbols of suicide. I will talk more about Rubber Hose/ Car. These symbols are very important because they bring us Willy’s flashbacks, we see his past life. Cars symbolize his mental and social well-being. By this time he owns a Chevvy, he says that it is the best car in the world. “Chevrolet, Linda, is the greatest car ever built. ( page 22). He always remembers that red Chevvy that he had in 1928. That car brings him the flashback about the times when Biff and Happy were still in high school, how they used to simonize the car. Cars are also a symbol of change in this book, Willy says: ”The street is lined with cars. There’s not a breath of fresh air in the neighborhood. “ ( page 8) ,it means that everything changed in this world. Willy’s car is also a symbol of suicide. Willy smashed his car a coupe of times before. Then when he was driving from work he almost smashed it again. “You didn’t smash the car, did you? (page 5), this is what Linda asked him when he got back from work, because he was looking very bad and pale. So overall the car is not a very good symbol for Willy, they make him “go back in time”, ( flashbacks), or he almost dyes. Rubber Hose is a symbol of Willy’s desire for suicide. He tries to kill himself using the Rubber Hose hidden behind the fuse box. “I was looking for a fuse. The lights blew out, and I went down the cellar. And behind the fuse box — it happened to fall out — was a length of rubber pipe — just short. ”( page 42). It shows that he was trying to kill himself, and he planned it.
Willy had planned to inhale gas. Like Willy’s other attempted method of suicide—driving off the road in the car he uses to travel to work—the rubber hose points how the conveniences such as the car and water heater that Willy works so hard to buy to afford might, under their surface, be killing him. “I suddenly couldn’t drive any more. The car kept going off onto the shoulder, y’know? ” (page 5). All these symbols show Willy’s desire to kill himself, in any way, by inhaling gas or smashing the car. And he actually realizes it at the end of the book. So basically he realized what he wanted to do.