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Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett
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What is the significance and meaning of Macon country in Waiting for Godot?

“Macon country” in Waiting for Godot appears in dialogue between Vladimir and Estragon. Vladimir asserts that he has been to the Eiffel Tower and the Macon country. Estragon replies that he has never been anywhere but has “puked” or wasted his life where they are, the “Cackon country.” Macon probably refers to Mâcon, a city in France. Cackon is apparently a play on “caca,” meaning excrement. The exchange is concerned with their being stuck in their current location.

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In Waiting for Godot, the phrase “Macon country” occurs in act two as part of a dialogue between Vladimir and Estragon regarding travel, health, and existence. Estragon (Gogo) has been absent and was beaten while away; he has just returned to their spot around the tree. As the two men contemplate their surroundings, Vladimir (Didi) remarks on changes in the tree, but Gogo does not want to talk about “scenery.” Didi claims that their present locations looks different than other spots, such as “the Macon country”:

VLADIMIR: All the same, you can't tell me that this (gesture) bears any resemblance to … (he hesitates) … to the Macon country for example. You can't deny there's a big difference.

Gogo does not want to talk about it, but Didi encourages him to do so. He claims Gogo had been there:

VLADIMIR: But you were there yourself, in the Macon country.

However, Gogo insists that he has never been anywhere else, but Didi counters that claim. He seems to remember that they picked grapes together, but then seems unsure of his memory:

ESTRAGON: No I was never in the Macon country! I've puked my puke of a life away here, I tell you! Here! In the Cackon country!

VLADIMIR: But we were there together, I could swear to it! Picking grapes for a man called … (he snaps his fingers) … can't think of the name of the man, at a place called … (snaps his fingers) … can't think of the name of the place, do you not remember?

Given this mention of grape picking, it seems likely that “Mâcon” refers to the city in Burgundy or Bourgogne; the “country” would be the Mâconnais region. The area is well known for its vineyards. Gogo’s reference to “the Cackon country” seems to be aplay on words, drawing on “caca,” slang for excrement.

Didi’s claims may be truthful. The two characters are often interpreted as tramps, so it would make sense that they traveled together and worked as itinerant laborers. However, Gogo’s strong assertion to the contrary and Didi’s faulty memory together suggest that they have not traveled. Didi may be correct that he has wasted or “puked … away” his life in that exact spot. Together, their attitudes suggest the futility and frustration that dominates the entire play.

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