Death of a Salesman

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Seeds Symbol Icon
"I don't have a thing in the ground!" Willy laments after both his sons abandon him in Act 2. The sons he has cultivated with his own values have grown to disappoint him, none of his financial hopes have borne fruit, and he is desperate to have some tangible result of a lifetime of work. By planting vegetable seeds, he is attempting to begin anew. But as Linda gently reminds him, the surrounding buildings don't provide enough light for a garden. Willy's attempt to plant the vegetable seeds at night further reinforces the futility of his efforts.

Seeds Quotes in Death of a Salesman

The Death of a Salesman quotes below all refer to the symbol of Seeds. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The American Dream Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Death of a Salesman published in 2011.
Act 2 Quotes
I've got to get some seeds, right away. Nothing's planted. I don't have a thing in the ground.
Related Characters: Willy Loman (speaker)
Related Symbols: Seeds
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

Willy's fantasy about his affair dissolves and he finds himself in the bathroom of the restaurant he was in with his sons. When he returns to the table he sees that his sons are gone—they've paid the check and he is alone. Willy asks his server, Stanley where he can find some seeds to plant. Stanley tells him to go to a hardware store nearby. Willy exits.

Seeds here become a symbol of Willy's desire to die and leave something, no matter how small, behind him. He has nothing to care for anymore. His sons don't respect him, he has just had a vivid memory of his betrayal of his wife, he has lost his job, and he has lost his own sense of self worth. Miller also brings up the idea of nature versus city once again. If the city represents the clouded, capitalistic American Dream, coming back to nature, to the simple planting and reaping of seeds, represents the idea of finding truth and connection. Additionally, unlike Willy, seeds are planted—they are rooted to the ground, and do not travel or move. Willy is desperate for roots and desperate for growth, and he sees death and the planting of seeds as the only way to accomplish this.


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Seeds Symbol Timeline in Death of a Salesman

The timeline below shows where the symbol Seeds appears in Death of a Salesman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
...the prospects of the "Florida idea," Willy tells Linda that he wants to buy some seeds and plant a garden in the back yard. Linda is overjoyed at Willy's high spirits,... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Stanley if he knows where he can find a store that sells carrot and pea seeds. Stanley tells him where to go, and Willy hurries off, frantically explaining that he has... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Nature vs. City Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...the house for Willy, who, Linda finally tells Biff, is outside obsessively trying to plant seeds despite the darkness. (full context)