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Endgame

Samuel Beckett

Nagg Wakes Up–Hamm's Monologue

Chair Ride–Nagg Wakes Up

From Hamm's monologue–end

Summary

Clov listens to something Nagg says. He reports that Nagg doesn't want to listen to Hamm's story, and wants a sugarplum if he has to listen to it. Hamm agrees, and Clov leaves. Hamm asks Nagg why he produced him, and Nagg says he didn't know that it would be Hamm. Hamm promises to give him the sugarplum after his story. He commences telling it after ruminating on his ill health. In a narrative tone, he relates how a pale, thin man came crawling to the narrator (called Hamm hereafter). He stops the story, comments on how he's done that bit, and continues: it was Christmas Eve, and he asked the man why he came his way. The man said for Hamm not to look at him. Hamm persisted, and the man revealed he had left behind a small boy in his distant home, alone. He wanted food for the boy, but Hamm argued that food did little good—there's no cure for being on earth. Eventually, Hamm says, he took the man into his service, and "in the end" was asked if he would take the child, if he were still alive. Hamm says he's near the end of the story, unless he brings in other characters—but he wouldn't know where to find them.

Hamm whistles, and Clov comes in. Nagg cries for his sugarplum. Clov reports that there's a rat in the kitchen, and that's he's exterminated half of it. Hamm says he'll finish it later, but now they'll pray to God. Nagg begins reciting the prayer, but Hamm cuts him off and insists they do it in silence. They pray silently, and then Hamm asks "Well?" They are all disappointed by the lack of a godly response, and Hamm believes God doesn't exist. After Nagg asks for his sugarplum and Hamm tells him there are none, Nagg discusses his role as Hamm's father. He remembers Hamm would call him when he was scared as a child, and not his mother. He didn't listen to him, he says, but he hopes the day will come again when Hamm will depend on his father's listening to him, and on his father's talking to him. He knocks on Nell's lid and yells to her but, with no response, retreats into his bin and closes the lid.

Hamm gropes for his dog and, not finding it, believes it has gone away, a theory Clov finds impossible, as it's a fake dog. After more groping, Clov hands the dog to Hamm, who soon after throws it away. Clov cleans up the room, as he loves order, but Hamm makes him stop. Before Clov can leave, Hamm tells him to stay and listen to his story, as he's "got on with" it. He resumes telling it, often stopping for asides with Clov: he gave the man a job as gardener, and the man asked if he could take his boy with him. Hamm says that's where he got up to, but now he's too tired to finish it, or make up another story. He tells Clov to see if Nell is dead; he looks into the bin and says it looks that way. Nagg hasn't died, but he's crying.

Hamm asks Clov to push his chair under the window, as he wants to feel the light on his face. Clov does so, and Hamm asks if it's light; Clov says it is. Since it's the earth window, Hamm says there's no light and orders Clov to push him to the other one. He says he feels sunshine, but Clov says it isn't. Hamm orders Clov to open the window, as he wants to hear the sea, but Clov says it won't matter. After Hamm insists, Clov pretends to open it. After Hamm remarks on the calmness of the sea, he asks Clov to close the window (he pretends to do so again). Clov pushes Hamm back to the center. Hamm twice calls for his father, and tells Clov to see if Nagg heard him. Clov investigates and says Nagg did, once only. He says Nagg isn't crying anymore, but sucking his biscuit. Hamm asks Clov to kiss him on the forehead, or hold his hand, but Clov refuses. Hamm asks for his dog, and then rejects the idea, and Clov leaves, vowing that either he'll kill the rat or it'll die.

Analysis

Creation is further lambasted in this section; Hamm didn't want to be born and Nagg didn't want to have him. Still, Nagg recognizes that despite the disappointment and randomness of creation (he points out that if he weren't Hamm's father, someone else would be), there exists a deep bond between parent and child. It may seem anomalous for Beckett to wax sentimental about familial affections, but in this case the stress is less on Hamm the child's love for his father and more on his fear of solitude and dependency. The theme is paralleled in the story Hamm tells. While the detached narrator is a stand-in for Hamm, and Clov may be the young child, Nagg's recollection of Hamm as a scared, lonely child means that Hamm may be projecting himself as the abandoned child in the story, left behind by his father. Tellingly, Hamm never relates the story from the child's point of view, since this one is all too painful for him.

Hamm again hams it up in the story, performing in four distinct voices: his own, the narrative, himself as the narrator, and the beggar. There are also four numbers related to the weather in the story, and their order—0–50–100–0—revolves in circular form back to the beginning. The story's combination of endings (the father's imminent death) and beginnings (Hamm's taking in the child), along with its Christmas Eve setting, associates it with the modern era's most important ending and beginning, Christ's birth. Another fusion of ending and beginning is Clov's desire for an ordered universe to be "A world where all would be silent and still and each things in its last place." He dislikes entropy, the tendency of things to become disordered but, in fact, a perfectly disordered universe would have equal distribution of energy and motion would cease—exactly as it would in Clov's vision of a perfectly ordered universe.

Hamm's attachment to light—something he scoffed at previously, when Clov said he watched his light dying in the kitchen—shows his slight optimism, as light is a source of hope and life in the play. But Clov wants to deprive him of it (and other things, such as his dog), for reasons not yet fully known, except for their otherwise tense relationship.

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