Literature Study GuidesEndgameClov Looks Out The Windows Summary

Endgame | Study Guide

Samuel Beckett

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Endgame | Clov Looks Out the Windows | Summary

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Summary

Hamm once again demands to be taken to the windows. He wants to feel the sun on his face, but there is no more sun. Clov pushes Hamm back to his central place in the room and then checks on Nagg, who is not dead, only barely alive. When Clov goes to kill the rat, Hamm gives another soliloquy thinking about all the people he could have saved in his distant past and wondering about what the end will be like when his father and son (Clov?) fail to respond.

Clov returns to announce the rat escaped and that Hamm's painkillers are gone. The news of the painkillers elicits a scream from Hamm, now doomed to physical misery for the rest of his life, however long that may be. Hamm orders Clov to look out the windows one last time. Clov obliges with the now-familiar routine of fetching and forgetting the ladder. As they argue about Clov's effort to look at the dimly lit earth, Clov harshly reminds Hamm that someone called Mother Pegg died of darkness because Hamm would not give her oil for her lamp. Their interaction deteriorates as each pushes the other to the limits of tolerance. "I'm tired of our goings on, very tired," Clov says.

Analysis

As time wears on, the characters become even more worn down. They know their search for meaning is fruitless. "You're on earth," Hamm says violently, "there's no cure for that!" Hamm reflects on his past, the people he could have helped but didn't, and the people for whom he still has disdain. His past holds no comfort for him: "It all happened without me. I don't know what's happened. Do you know what's happened?" Clov replies, "What for Christ's sake does it matter?" Clov's exasperated observation is a raw statement of life's futility. It does not matter what happens—in the past or the present, in one's own life or the world—because whatever happens will mean nothing in Beckett's universe.

The symbol of darkness is prominent throughout this interaction between Hamm and Clov. Hamm wants to feel the sun on his face, but there is no sun. Hamm is freezing, presumably from the lack of light, and wants a rug, but there are no more rugs. The story of Mother Pegg crystalizes several points in the play: darkness and Hamm's selfishness are revealed as deadly. Clov reminds Hamm that when Mother Pegg asked for oil for her lamp, Hamm denied her and told her to go to hell. She died of darkness—and of Hamm's cruelty.

Hamm considers beginning another story or throwing himself on the floor, but his feeble and painful attempt to raise himself from his seat fails. His chair remains his master, and he acknowledges his loneliness will continue until the end: "There I'll be, in the old shelter, alone against the silence and ... stillness."

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