A: Arthur Miller Pf: 1968, New York Pb: 1968 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Attic of Manhattan brownstone about to be demolished, 1960s C: 3m, 1fPolice Sergeant Victor Franz and his wife Esther wait in the apartment of Victor's late father for the arrival of a dealer who will offer them a price for all his old furniture and ornaments. Victor joined the police when he had to drop out of college to support his father in the hard days of the Depression. Nearing retirement, he is extremely resentful of his brother Walter, who became a famous surgeon while contributing only a few dollars a month to his father's upkeep. At last the elderly dealer arrives. He is Gregory Solomon, an 89-year-old Jew in failing health but with a warm sense of humour. After checking on the items for sale, he finally offers $1,100, which Victor uncertainly accepts. At this moment, Walter, whom Victor has not seen for 16 years, enters. The brothers confront each other, Victor complaining that he sacrificed his life while Walter was able to go on to be a success. However, Walter reveals that he has had a breakdown and is now divorced; moreover, Victor's sacrifice was an illusion, because their father kept a secret horde of his own money. Insisting that their home life was a sham, Walter says: ‘What was unbearable is not that it fell apart, it was that there was never anything here.’ Finally, Solomon is left alone to complete the inventory. He puts on a ‘laughing record’ and begins to laugh ‘with tears in his eyes’.
A: Arthur Miller Pf: 1968, New York Pb: 1968 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Attic of Manhattan brownstone about to be demolished, 1960s C: 3m, 1f
In this wholly realistic piece, Miller explores some of his recurrent themes of guilt, resentment, and of the search for success in a materialistic society. All four characters, in different ways, have had to pay the price for a life without love and honesty.