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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 850

After he kills a dog, the dog's owner brings him to her house to help her bury it. Because of his physical ailments, Molloy is unable to do much to help. Still she keeps him there with him. He thinks, "But the lady, a Mrs. Loy, I might as well...

(The entire section contains 850 words.)

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After he kills a dog, the dog's owner brings him to her house to help her bury it. Because of his physical ailments, Molloy is unable to do much to help. Still she keeps him there with him. He thinks, "But the lady, a Mrs. Loy, I might as well say it now and be done with it, or Lousse, I forget, Christian name something like Sophie, held me back, by the tail of my coat, and said, assuming the words were the same when I heard them as when first spoken, Sir, I need you." The way Molloy recognizes and yet has no awareness of a woman who he stays with for some time is representative of his cognitive abilities throughout the book. Often he has a difficult time remembering basic details about his life and the people in it. He isn't sure what he's doing or why most of the time, it seems.

Even though he doesn't trust her, his health doesn't decline more rapidly with her. Beckett writes, "But I must say that with Lousse my health got no worse, or scarcely. By which I mean that what was already wrong with me got worse and worse, little by little, as was only to be expected." When he leaves her home, both his mental and physical states deteriorate. He ends up assaulting one man and then falling down in a ditch from which he's rescued and brought back to his mother's home.

Molloy's uncertainty about his own life extends to his past as well as his present. When he thinks of a woman he once loved, he thinks, "It was she made me acquainted with love. She went by the peaceful name of Ruth I think, but I can’t say for certain. Perhaps the name was Edith." Despite the fact that she clearly had a major impact on him, he can't even remember her name.

When Molloy meets a man in the woods who approaches him in what Molloy considers an unsavory way, he attacks him. Beckett writes:

So I smartly freed a crutch and dealt him a good dint on the skull. That calmed him. The dirty old brute. I got up and went on. But I hadn’t gone more than a few paces, and for me at this time a few paces meant something, when I turned and went back to where he lay, to examine him. Seeing he had not ceased to breathe I contented myself with giving him a few warm kicks in the ribs, with my heels.

In the second half of the novel, the detective Moran takes center stage. At first, he's coherent. As the novel continues, though, Moran because less coherent and more confused.

Moran is accompanied by his son. He says, "My son was thirteen or fourteen at the time. He was big and strong for his age. His intelligence seemed at times little short of average. My son, in fact. I called him and ordered him to go and fetch some beer. Peeping and prying were part of my profession. My son imitated me instinctively." By the end of the novel, they've parted ways.

Moran is contracted by a man named Youdi through a man named Gaber. Beckett writes:

You leave today, said Gaber. Today! I cried, but he’s out of his mind! Your son goes with you, said Gaber. I said no more. When it came to the point we said no more. Gaber buttoned his notebook and put it back in his pocket, which he also buttoned. He stood up, rubbing his hands over his chest. I could do with another beer, he said. Go to the kitchen, I said, the maid will serve you. Goodbye, Moran, he said.

The reader doesn't recieve clear details about how and why Moran was contracted to search for Molloy. Nonetheless, Moran sets off and attempts to find him. By the time he returns home, though, he's less focused on Molloy or his own life and more focused on bigger questions about the nature of life. The things he wonders about include:

2. Why had I obeyed the order to go home?
3. What had become of Molloy?
4. Same question for me.
5. What would become of me?
6. Same questions for my son.
7. Was his mother in heaven?
8. Same question for my mother.
9. Would I go to heaven?
10. Would we all meet again in heaven one day, I, my mother, my son, his mother, Youdi, Gaber, Molloy, his mother, Yerk, Murphy, Watt, Camier and the rest?

He doesn't figure out the answers but he continues thinking about these types of things. By the time he gets home, most things are unclear to him.

When Gaber tells Moran to go home, it's the late summer. He doesn't get home until spring but there's no accounting for where he went or what he did. He says, "It was in August, in September at the latest, that I was ordered home. It was spring when I got there, I will not be more precise. I had therefore been all winter on the way."

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