(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

This is one of Samuel Beckett’s intellectually and perversely teasing monologues about existence, which are quite common in his later work. As the unnamed narrator considers what he should do, he seems to be trying to prove his own reality by constructing a story that he keeps chopping and changing. It may be a story of a journey, out and back, that takes place in the spring. There is to be no serious action, so the voice assures itself that there is nothing to fear. Nevertheless, there is a constant sense of anxiety and reluctance involved. The voice decides to be the character in the story, and there is a sense that it is to be a male character, an old man, cared for by a nanny called Bibby.

The narrator faces the problem of how to describe himself, perhaps with the help of memory, although he admits that he cannot remember much, so he abandons that idea. He will instead write of the future. As an example of that method, he thinks about how sometimes at night he says to himself that on the morrow he will put on his dark blue tie with the yellow stars. This thought seems to upset him, but he hurries on with his proposed action and decides to be accompanied by an old naval veteran, who may have fought under Admiral Jellicoe in the British navy in World War I. There is considerable gritty detail about this proposed companion, and about the narrator’s physical state. The veteran’s lungs are bad, and the narrator himself suffers from a prostate...

(The entire section is 525 words.)