Act I, Section A-4: Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 971

Summary
Lucky goes back to his spot. Pozzo opens the basket, removes the chicken and wine, and starts eating.

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Vladimir and Estragon takes a closer look at Lucky. They inspect his face and the sores on his neck. They wonder out loud whether he is “a halfwit” or “a cretin.”

Estragon wants the chicken bones Pozzo’s thrown on the ground. He is told to ask Lucky for permission to eat them. When Lucky ignores him, Pozzo grants him permission to eat them.

While Pozzo smokes his pipe, Vladimir and Estragon complain about the “disgrace” of Lucky’s treatment. They decide to leave. However, Pozzo reminds them about their appointment with Godot. He does not want them to go; he wants company while he smokes his second pipe.

Estragon and Vladimir wonder why Lucky does not put down his bags. They ask Pozzo about this, but he is too busy talking about himself. They ask again. This time, Pozzo relishes the attention (“Is everybody listening? Is everybody ready?”), and even jerks Lucky to attention. However, by the time he is ready to answer, he has forgotten the question.

When it is repeated, Pozzo goes into a lengthy explanation. He explains that he is on his way to sell Lucky at the fair. Since Lucky does not want to be sold, he is trying to impress Pozzo with his actions.

At this point, Lucky starts crying. Pozzo gives Estragon a handkerchief to wipe away the tears. As Estragon attempts this, Lucky kicks him in the shin, drawing blood.

Vladimir is horrified at Pozzo’s insensitivity. As soon as his pain subsides, Estragon joins Vladimir in reprimanding Pozzo. They go on until Pozzo gives up sobbing. “He used to be so kind…so helpful…and entertaining…my good angel…and now…he’s killing me.”

However, Pozzo forgets his moment of weakness almost immediately. He starts rummaging for his pipe, to Estragon’s delight, until Vladimir has to run offstage to relieve himself.

Upon his return, the three men look up at the sky, discuss the appointment with Godot, fiddle with their belongings, and generally relax with each other. Pozzo asks for some reassurance as to his character. Once he gets it, he admits that he has “need of encouragement,” and that his “memory is defective.”

Analysis
A-4 focuses on Pozzo’s discourse as he attempts to impress Vladimir and Estragon. For the moment, Didi and Gogo are entertained during their waiting period. Pozzo and Lucky become a so-called “play within a play.” They create a diversion for Estragon and Vladimir, who then let the audience know that they are aware of being present at their own spectacle.

Vladimir: Charming evening we’re having.
Estragon: Unforgettable.
Vladimir: And it’s not over.
Estragon: Apparently not.
Vladimir: It’s only beginning.
Estragon: It’s awful.
Vladimir: Worse than the pantomine.
Estragon: The circus.
Vladimir: The music-hall.
Estragon: The circus.

When Vladimir ‘hastens towards the wings,’ Estragon calls after him, “End of the corridor, on the left,” and he answers, “Keep my seat.” In this exchange, Beckett has temporarily broken the “fourth wall,” a term given to the invisible wall that separates the audience from the actors on stage. Estragon and Vladimir are now spectators.

“Why doesn’t he put down his bags?”, Estragon says about Lucky. This will be repeated as the play unfolds, and become a refrain. In this section, Lucky is never free of his load. His repetitive gestures with Pozzo’s belongings define his character. On command, he lifts and replaces the stool, the basket, and the coat.

A close examination of Lucky’s physical appearance reveals the distortions created by a life of servitude. Pozzo might be Lucky’s Godot, but the result is a debilitated and deformed human specimen.

Estragon approaches Lucky by addressing him as “Mister,” then again “Mister.” The language of the “double mister” is right from the Dublin streets. Beckett takes some of his language from Irish colloquialisms, as did James Joyce in Ulysses: “Eh, Mister! Your fly is open, Mister.”

At long last, Vladimir gives a sense of his humanitarian feeling by saying, “It’s a scandal…! To treat a man…like that…I think that…no…a human being…no…it’s a scandal!” Estragon, more involved with his eating, chimes in with “A disgrace!” The two of them get back to the business of their own physical selves, however, when Lucky kicks Estragon in his shin.

There is a vast difference between the couples Lucky and Pozzo, and Estragon and Vladimir. The former pair is goal directed. They have a destination and a plan. They have a past and a future. The latter have no plan, no goal, no destination. They can either wait for Godot or not. However, the only alternative to waiting seems to be death.

Pozzo tries to impress Estragon and Vladimir with his possessions. He makes a huge ordeal of his basket of food and wine, his vaporizer to clear his throat, his watch, and his pipe. “I’ve lost my Kapp and Peterson!” he cries, referring to the briar he purchased at one of Dublin’s finest pipe shops.

He then tries to impress them with poetic language, and goes off into a soliloquy about the sky. “What is there so extraordinary about it. Qua sky. It is pale and luminous like any sky at this hour of the day. In these latitudes....”

At the end, he asks: “How did you find me?” Estragon’s response, “Oh tray bong, tray tray tray bong,” is again lifted from Dublin street conversation, where humor was derived from exaggerating well-known French sayings. Pozzo’s need for this kind of reassurance leads him to admit to some weakness in his character. He explains it by saying, “You see my memory is defective.”

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