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Endgame | Study Guide

Samuel Beckett

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Endgame | Hamm and Clov Talk | Summary



Hamm and Clov continue their conversation, and Clov echoes Nell's question: "Why this farce, day after day?" They revisit their ruminations about whether it is possible to live with meaning. In the middle of their philosophical musings, Clov discovers a flea on his stomach and shakes a large amount of insecticide powder down his pants to kill it.

At Clov's mention of his bad eyesight and inability to sit down, Hamm predicts one day Clov will be like him, blind and unable to stand. Hamm reminds Clov that he did take pity on Clov and saved him, reiterating, "But for me, no father. But for Hamm, no home." Clov continues his duties by bringing Hamm a crippled toy dog, which Clov is building and which they discuss in comic ways. Clov also concocts a plan with an alarm clock to signal his absence should he ever leave Hamm for good.


Hamm and Clov's main action is talking. The struggle between Hamm and Clov is intensifying, as are the struggles between all the characters. When Clov observes, "something is taking its course," it's not clear whether he is talking about the progression of life, time, or the play. Hamm makes that sentiment personal when he explains, "I'm taking my course." The moments of Hamm's life keep unfolding, but the audience and reader must wonder for how much longer.

The characters' search for meaning in the play has little hope of fulfillment. "We're not beginning to ... to ... mean something?" asks Hamm tentatively. Clov scoffs in reply to this absurd notion. They look to the past for meaning, but "yesterday ... [that] bloody awful day, long ago, before this bloody awful day" offers no help in defining their present.

Language, too, abandons them. "I use the words you taught me," Clov says coldly. "If they don't mean anything any more, teach me others. Or let me be silent." They are increasingly desperate as time passes meaninglessly. Hamm wonders, "Do you not think this has gone on long enough?" Clov replies, "Yes!" but they remain for at least a while longer.

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