Study Guide

Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Country road

Country road. Unnamed road, alongside which Vladimir and Estragon await the arrival of Godot. No clues are given to identify the location, whose terrain is a flat and unbroken plain to the distant horizon. In a ditch nearby, Estragon has spent the night, despite beatings by an unknown “they.” In effect, the road stretches to and from nowhere in particular, although Pozzo says he is leading his servant, Lucky, down the road to a fair. Pozzo’s claim that he owns the land is not necessarily true. Although Vladimir refers to past experiences together atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris and grape-picking “in the Macon country,” Estragon claims that he has never been in Macon country and has “puked [his] puke of a life away here . . . in the Cackon country.” None of these claims is verifiable.

Despite Beckett’s insistence that productions of his plays should always adhere to his specifications, the austere set he intended for this play has occasionally been radically altered by stage designers. For example, the set of the 1988 Broadway production of Waiting for Godot designed by Tony Walton was a stretch of Nevada highway, cluttered with debris and abandoned car parts.

Tree

Tree. Sole landmark by the road that helps direct Vladimir and Estragon to where they are to meet Godot. The scraggly tree is bare in the play’s first act. Although no other trees can be seen, Vladimir and Estragon are uncertain that this is the correct tree by which they should be waiting. Indeed, they think it might not be a tree at all, but rather a shrub or a bush. Vladimir suggests that it might be a willow but admits that he does not know. He also suggests that the tree may be dead. However, when the second act opens there are four or five leaves on the tree, proving that the tree is alive and that an indeterminable length of time has passed.

Beckett reportedly told a biographer that Waiting for Godot was inspired by Kaspar David Friedrich’s painting Two Men Observing the Moon, in which such a tree figures prominently.

Low mound

Low mound. Slight slope of land on which Estragon sits at the beginning of the play, struggling to remove his boot. This is the only other feature of the landscape mentioned in the stage directions.

Waiting for Godot Historical Context

The French Resistance Movement during World War II
Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot in the late months of 1948, three...

(The entire section is 881 words.)

Waiting for Godot Quizzes

Act I, Section A-1: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. When and where does this play take place?

2. Describe Estragon.

3. Describe Vladimir.

4. How are the men alike? How are they different?

5. Where did Estragon spend the night? What happened to him there?

6. What method of suicide does Vladimir suggest? Why wouldn’t it work?

7. Why does Vladimir stop himself from laughing?

8. Vladimir and Estragon remember two different parts of the Gospels. Describe each one.

9. What is the matter with Estragon’s foot?

10. “Nothing to be done” is repeated two times in this section. In each case, who says it and why?

Answers
1....

(The entire section is 299 words.)

Act I, Section A-2: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who are Vladimir and Estragon waiting for? Why?

2. Where does Estragon think the men were yesterday?

3. What are the nicknames of the characters?

4. Why does Estragon pull away from Vladimir when they embrace?

5. Why does Estragon want to hang himself “immediately?”

6. Why won’t Estragon and Vladimir hang themselves?

7. What will Godot have to do before he promises them anything?

8. What food does Vladimir have in his pocket?

9. What is the difference in the way Estragon and Vladimir approach food?

10. Estragon repeats “Nothing to be done.” Why?

Answers
1....

(The entire section is 233 words.)

Act I, Section A-3: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How are Vladimir and Estragon feeling when Lucky and Pozzo enter?

2. What are Vladimir and Estragon holding when they enter?

3. How does Pozzo describe Lucky when they arrive?

4. Who does Estragon think Pozzo is?

5. What other names do the men associate with the name “Pozzo?”

6. Why does Pozzo burst into “an enormous laugh?”

7. Why does Pozzo conclude that Estragon and Vladimir have the right to be on his property?

8. Why is Pozzo happy to see the two men?

9. Why can’t Lucky hold the whip in his hand?

10. What possessions does Pozzo seem to be travelling with?

...

(The entire section is 235 words.)

Act I, Section A-4: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Once seated, what does Pozzo do?

2. What are Lucky’s physical characteristics?

3. What does Pozzo do after he eats?

4. What does Estragon want from Pozzo?

5. What does Vladimir think about Pozzo’s treatment of Lucky?

6. Why does Pozzo want to meet Godot?

7. Why doesn’t Lucky put down his bags?

8. Why does Pozzo want to get rid of Lucky?

9. Who cries in this section and why?

10. Why does Pozzo think the sky is so extraordinary?

Answers
1. Once seated, Pozzo drinks his wine and eats his chicken.

2. Lucky has a running sore on his neck. He is good...

(The entire section is 272 words.)

Act I, Section A-5: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Estragon want Pozzo to repay him for being “civil” to him?

2. What does Pozzo suggest as repayment?

3. What does Estragon want Lucky to do? What does Vladimir want Lucky to do?

4. What is Estragon’s reaction to Lucky’s dance?

5. What is the name of Lucky’s dance? Why does he call it that?

6. Why did Lucky finally put down his bags?

7. Before Lucky thinks, what does he need?

8. How do Estragon, Vladimir, and Pozzo react to Lucky’s speech?

9. How do they get him to stop?

10. At the end of this section, what has Pozzo misplaced? Where does he think it may be?

...

(The entire section is 255 words.)

Act I, Section A-6: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Vladimir sum up Lucky and Pozzo’s visit?

2. Why does Vladimir think he knows the visitors?

3. Why does Estragon “hobble?”

4. Who enters next?

5. What does he want?

6. Why did he hesitate before speaking up?

7. How is Estragon feeling at this point in the play?

8. What does the boy say about himself?

9. What does Estragon do with his boots? Why?

10. Why does Estragon compare himself to Christ?

Answers
1. Vladimir says it helped pass the time.

2. Vladimir thinks that he has seen Pozzo and Lucky before. He thinks they have changed from the last...

(The entire section is 228 words.)

Act II, Section B-1: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where and when does Act II begin?

2. What does Vladimir do when he enters?

3. What is Vladimir’s reaction to seeing Estragon?

4. What is Estragon’s reaction to seeing Vladimir?

5. What happened to Estragon in the night?

6. What does Vladimir remember about the tree?

7. What does Estragon say about his memory?

8. What country does Estragon think they are in now? What country does Vladimir remember?

9. Why does Estragon think they need to keep talking?

10. Why are the two men there again?

Answers
1. Act II begins in the same place on the next day.

2. When...

(The entire section is 224 words.)

Act II , Section B-2: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Vladimir notice about the tree?

2. What does Vladimir remember?

3. What does Estragon remember?

4. What does Estragon say about the boots?

5. What is different about the food Vladimir has in his pocket now compared with the food he had in A-2?

6. What is different about the boots?

7. How does Vladimir try to help Estragon get sleep?

8. What has Lucky left behind? What do they do with it?

9. Who plays Lucky? Who plays Pozzo?

10. What insults do they hurl at each other?

Answers
1. Vladimir notices that the tree, which seemed dead before, has grown leaves.

...

(The entire section is 222 words.)

Act II, Section B-3: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What physical changes are apparent in Lucky and Pozzo?

2. What happens when they first enter?

3. What does Pozzo keep asking for?

4. Who does Estragon think it is?

5. What does Estragon want from Pozzo?

6. What two things does Vladimir suggest may occur?

7. How does Estragon summarize Vladimir’s rhetoric?

8. How does Pozzo try to get the men to help him?

9. What happens when Vladimir tries to help Pozzo get up? What happens to Estragon when he tries to help Vladimir?

10. How are all four characters alike at the end of this section?

Answers
1. The rope that connects...

(The entire section is 185 words.)

Act II, Section B-4: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where are the men at the beginning of this section?

2. What does Estragon want to do now?

3. What does Vladimir do to Pozzo?

4. What does Pozzo do?

5. What names does Estragon use to call Pozzo?

6. After Estragon and Vladimir get up, what do they decide to do?

7. Why is Pozzo asking about the time?

8. How does Pozzo suggest that Estragon go about rousing Lucky?

9. What does Estragon do?

10. Why can’t Lucky entertain the men as before?

Answers
1. The men are all on the ground.

2. Estragon wants to take a nap.

3. Vladimir hits Pozzo.

...

(The entire section is 198 words.)

Act II, Section B-5: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What happens to Pozzo and Lucky after they leave?

2. What was Estragon’s feeling in his dream?

3. What event has Estragon forgotten?

4. What does Vladimir know about Estragon’s character?

5. Who arrives?

6. What is the difference between the way the boy delivers the message this time and the way it was done in A-6?

7. What happened to the boy’s brother?

8. What new facts about Godot does the boy reveal?

9. What does Vladimir say will happen if the men forget about Godot?

10. What will they do when they return tomorrow?

Answers
1. After they leave, they fall down....

(The entire section is 201 words.)