Willy spends his whole life working as an average traveling salesman. What keeps him motivated is the hopes of his sons living a better life than his own. As Willy gets older and sees that he has not accomplished much with his life, and that his son Happy hates him. When his son Happy comes to visit Willy goes into these flashbacks of his good times with his family and job.
Willy eventually gets fed up with his life and tries to kill himself on a few occasions. He attempts this by driving his car into the bridge, and making a contraption to hook into his gas line so that he can breathe it in and hopefully become overwhelmed and die. Then his loving wife Linda finds out about the hose in the basement for the gas and she becomes disturbed. Throughout the movie Linda is shown mending her stockings, and Willy yells at her that she does not have to do that, and he will buy her new ones. Later on in the movie viewers learn that Willy has a mistress in another city.
To give her thanks he gives her a pair of stockings. This is a big act of disloyalty. In the end peace is made, and it appears everything is going to be ok.