Act II, Section B-5: Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1039

Summary
Vladimir and Estragon are alone. Vladimir awakens Estragon,does not want to hear his dream, and wonders about Pozzo’s blindness. Estragon again asks if Pozzo was Godot.

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Estragon’s feet hurt. Vladimir ponders the “truth” of what happened, and what will continue to happen.

The boy enters. He doesn’t recognize Vladimir and doesn’t remember being there before. Vladimir knows the message by heart. He says it for the boy. He asks the boy about his brother. “He’s sick, Sir,” the boy says. Vladimir asks if Godot has a beard, if it’s “fair” or “black.” The boy replies, “I think it’s white, Sir.”

Again, the boy wants to know what to tell Godot. “Tell him you saw me....” Vladimir answers. Then he grabs the boy and warns him not to forget this meeting.

“The sun sets, the moon rises.” Estragon gets up, removes his boots, puts them on the ground, and talks about leaving. Vladimir reminds him about Godot.

They look at the tree, and wonder if it’s a willow. They would like to hang themselves. Estragon removes the cord from his waist that was holding up his pants. His pants fall down to his ankles.

They remain there while they test the strength of the cord. It breaks. Estragon says they can bring a stronger rope when they return. They agree to hang themselves unless Godot appears.

Vladimir tells Estragon to pull up his trousers. He does so. They decide to go, but they do not move.

Analysis
Although Section B-5 ends the play, it repeats elements of themes that have appeared throughout: waiting, nothingness, time, Godot, infirmities, pairing, pauses, silences, the two thieves, the step-by-step approach, and circularity. There is a subtle difference in the mood; there is a quality of hopelessness at the end. That becomes clear only through an informed reading of the play and the knowledge that nothing much has changed from beginning to end, not even the dialogue.

A-2
Estragon: Will you never let me sleep?
Vladimir: I felt lonely.
Estragon: I had a dream.
Vladimir: Don’t tell me!
Estragon: I dreamt that—
Vladimir: DON’T TELL ME!

B-5
Estragon: Why will you never let me sleep?
Vladimir: I felt lonely.
Estragon: I was dreaming I was happy.
Vladimir: That passed the time.
Estragon: I was dreaming that—
Vladimir: (violently) Don’t tell me!

Estragon remains barefoot at the end of the play. According to Beckett, his difficulty might be given a theological explanation. One of Estragon’s feet is blessed, and the other damned. The boot will not go on the foot that is damned, but it will go on the foot that is blessed. That is why Estragon cries out in pain when he tries to walk. “I suppose I might as well get up. (He gets up painfully.) Ow! Didi!”

This idea of dualism, that the world is ruled by the antagonistic forces of good and evil, has been seen before. It can apply to the story of the “two thieves” from A-1, the reference Estragon makes to Cain and Abel in B-4, and the two brothers, one of whom is Godot’s messenger.

By the end of the play, it is clear that Godot’s arrival may not be a source of salvation for Estragon and Vladimir. They seemed to have sensed this before. The fear of his possible arrival causes Estragon to exclaim, “I’m accursed!” and “I’m in hell!” in B-2.

Again, subtle differences in the dialogue in A-2 and B-5 allude to this:

A-2
Estragon: Let’s go.
Vladimir: We can’t.
Estragon: Why not?
Vladimir: We’re waiting for Godot.
Estragon: Ah! You’re sure it was here?
Vladimir: What?
Estragon: That we were to wait.
Vladimir: He said by the tree. Do you see any others?
Estragon: What is it?
Vladimir: I don’t know. A willow.
Estragon: Where are the leaves?
Vladimir: It must be dead.

B-5
Estragon: …let’s go far away from here.
Vladimir: We can’t
Estragon: Why not?
Vladimir: We have to come back tomorrow.
Estragon: What for?
Vladimir: To wait for Godot.
Estragon: Ah! He didn’t come?

Vladimir: No.
Estragon: And now it’s too late.
Vladimir: Yes, now it’s night.
Estragon: And if we dropped him? If we dropped him?
Vladimir: He’d punish us. Everything’s dead but the tree.
Estragon: What is it?
Vladimir: It’s the tree.
Estragon: Yes, but what kind?
Vladimir: I don’t know. A willow.

This exchange is also significant in the way it indicates the passage of time. The tree that seemed dead is now alive. The men are somewhat more aware than before, possibly by witnessing the dynamic between Pozzo and Lucky, that Godot, who seemed to offer a way out, might not prove to be such a benevolent master.

The essentials of A-6 and B-5 are the same. The men, as before, keep waiting for Godot. The boy brings the same message. In each section, suicide is planned for the next day. At the end of Act I, Estragon plans to bring a rope; at the end of Act II, he plans to bring a stronger rope.

Vladimir and Estragon grow more alike by the end of the play; the differences seemed blurred. They are both weary and discouraged. At the end of the first act, when Estragon brings up the idea of suicide, Vladimir lightens it up by suggesting, “It’d give us an erection.” At the end of the second act, Vladimir concludes, “We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow. Unless Godot comes.”

In spite of the attempt at physical humor created when Estragon’s pants fall down to his ankles, the second act ends on a more hopeless note than the first. The dialogue is exactly the same, except the speakers are reversed:

Estragon: Well, shall we go?
Vladimir: Yes, let’s go.
They do not move.

Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let’s go.
They do not move.

It has been said about Godot, that because Act I and Act II follow the same pattern, “nothing happens—twice.” However, a close and careful reading will prove that nothing happens, time and again.

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Act II, Section B-4: Summary and Analysis