What is the significance of the confusion about Pozzo's name and identity in Waiting for Godot?

The significance of Estragon and Vladimir’s confusion about Pozzo’s identity, and that they believe for a moment that Pozzo is the long-awaited Godot, is that it points up the absurdity of Estragon and Vladimir’s situation in Waiting for Godot. For some unknown reason, other than that they've been told to do so, they’re waiting for someone they don’t know and will not recognize.

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When Pozzo first enters Samuel Beckett’s absurdist drama Waiting for Godot, at about fifteen minutes into the play, the characters Estragon (called “Gogo”) and Vladimir (called “Didi”) are waiting for the appearance of someone named “Godot.” They’ve been waiting for Godot for at least a day, perhaps even longer, since neither of them seems to know what day it is or how long they’ve been waiting.

VLADIMIR. We're waiting for Godot…

ESTRAGON. And if he doesn't come?

VLADIMIR. We'll come back tomorrow.

ESTRAGON. And then the day after tomorrow…

ESTRAGON. We came here yesterday…

VLADIMIR. He said Saturday. (Pause.) I think.

ESTRAGON. But what Saturday? And is it Saturday? Is it not rather Sunday? (Pause.) Or Monday? (Pause.) Or Friday?

Pozzo's entrance is preceded by Lucky, Pozzo’s servant or slave, who’s at the end of a long rope held by Pozzo, who drives him along with a whip.

The absurdity of Estragon and Vladimir’s situation and the dilemma in which they find themselves becomes clear within just a few lines.

ESTRAGON. Is that him?

VLADIMIR. Who?

ESTRAGON. (trying to remember the name). Er...

VLADIMIR. Godot?

ESTRAGON. Yes.

Estragon can’t even remember Godot’s name.

Estragon, Vladimir, and the audience might well believe that the imperious Pozzo is the long-awaited Godot, until Pozzo introduces himself.

POZZO. I present myself: Pozzo.

Estragon mishears him.

ESTRAGON. He said Godot.

VLADIMIR. Not at all!

ESTRAGON. (timidly, to Pozzo). You're not Mr. Godot, Sir?

POZZO. (terrifying voice). I am Pozzo!

Further discussion among Estragon, Vladimir, and Pozzo discloses that Estragon and Vladimir are wholly ignorant about Godot. They don’t know him, have never met him, and don’t even know what he looks like.

POZZO. Who is Godot?…

VLADIMIR. Oh he's a...he's a kind of acquaintance.

ESTRAGON. Nothing of the kind, we hardly know him.

VLADIMIR. True...we don't know him very well...but all the same...

ESTRAGON. Personally, I wouldn't even know him if I saw him.

Later in the play, it’s revealed that Estragon and Vladimir have simply been told to wait for Godot by a young boy.

BOY. Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won't come this evening but surely tomorrow.

Silence.

VLADIMIR. Is that all?

BOY. Yes, Sir.

The utter absurdity of Estragon and Vladimir’s situation is that they continue to wait for Godot, seemingly for no reason other than that they’ve been told to do so, even though they have no idea who Godot is or why they’re waiting for him.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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