Quotes

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Last Reviewed on February 25, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 469

It is suicide to be abroad. But what is it to be at home, Mr. Tyler, what is it to be at home? A lingering dissolution. Now we are white with dust from head to foot.

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Here, Mrs. Rooney addresses Mr. Tyler after hearing about his daughter's barrenness. She is responding to a passing van, which has spread literal dust, but she is also exploring the idea that they are both unable to have grandchildren and are, in this way, already covered in dust—rendered useless to future generations. In the middle of a long journey that includes an uncomfortable amount of waiting, she is wondering what it means to leave home, to eschew its comforts or lack thereof, and to try to go far from it ("suicide," as she says). This dramatic wording points to her obsession with death and Beckett's overall existential exploration, as well as a particular interest in the role of children in postponing death.

Don’t mind me. Don’t take any notice of me. I do not exist. The fact is well known.

At the station, Mrs. Rooney says this to a child. She is upset at being ignored, and it is telling that a child has aggravated her. Since she is not being acknowledged, she is afraid she may not exist. Her passive-aggressive delivery (telling him not to mind her while clearly asking him to pay attention) tells us that she has built up rage over being ignored. It also gives us an understanding of her frustration as an older woman, suddenly invisible to men and boys. She is confident in this narrative and sees herself as a victim, seeing the "fact" of her non-existence as "well known." She uses this moment of anger to both protest and internalize the lack of attention paid to her (and, therefore, to her existence).

Did you ever wish to kill a child? [Pause.] Nip some young doom in the bud. [Pause.] Many a time at night, in winter, on the black road home, I nearly attacked the boy.

This quote, from Dan toward the end of the play, is eerie and left ambiguous. It follows after the twins taunt the elderly couple on their way home. Dan is responding directly to them, potentially in jest. This quote suggest that Dan may have been involved in the death of the child and was thus the reason for Maddy's long wait. This line is delivered before readers learn that a child was thrown out of the carriage, and before readers hear Dan's avoidance of his wife's various questions about the train's delay, adding an unsettling implication to the play's ending. This quote also points to the idea that adults and the aging are resentful of children because of their youth and the longer lives ahead of them.

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Critical Essays