Willy comes home after work and talks to his wife. He seems forgetful and tends to get distracted easily. His wife Linda is patient and doesn't seem worried about his mental state.
Willy's sons Happy and Biff are in the next room, listening to their parents. They begin to talk about their careers and futures. A while later, they can hear their dad talking to himself, and they go to bed.
Willy is still up in at night, talking to "Biff" even though Biff is sleeping in the next room. He starts to reminisce on what his life was like when Happy and Biff were just children.
In Willy's dream-like state, he thinks back to when his children were younger and they were having problems with money.
Linda later tells Happy and Biff that Willy has been hallucinating more and more over the years, and has had multiple suicide attempts.
The next day, in Act Two, Willy goes to work to try and change his job position, but his boss Howard can't afford to move him. They get in an argument and Willy's fired.