Course Hero. "Waiting for Godot Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 21 Jan. 2019. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Waiting-for-Godot/>.
Course Hero. (2016, October 27). Waiting for Godot Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 21, 2019, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Waiting-for-Godot/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Waiting for Godot Study Guide." October 27, 2016. Accessed January 21, 2019. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Waiting-for-Godot/.
Course Hero, "Waiting for Godot Study Guide," October 27, 2016, accessed January 21, 2019, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Waiting-for-Godot/.
Lucky and Pozzo arrive again. Lucky wears a different hat, and Pozzo, who is now blind, follows him on a rope that's much shorter than before. Seeing Vladimir and Estragon, Lucky stops. Pozzo runs into him, and they both fall down. As Pozzo pleads for help getting up, Estragon suggests they first demand more chicken bones. Vladimir suggests they help him in hopes of a reward, and then he delivers a monologue that argues for helping on the basis of shared humanity. He then gets sidetracked, praising himself and Estragon for knowing their purpose—to wait for Godot—though it might just be a habit to keep their sanity. Either way, they must not waste the distraction.
Seeming not to hear Pozzo's large offers of money (many times what Estragon asked for in Act 1), they proceed in turn to try to help Pozzo. Trying to lift him up, Vladimir falls and is also unable to get up. Estragon tries to help Vladimir up, but he also falls and gets stuck on the ground. When Pozzo's pleas disturb Estragon, Vladimir beats Pozzo. Pozzo crawls away, and they call to him but cannot reach him.
After contemplating a cloud, Vladimir and Estragon easily stand up, and then lift up and support Pozzo. He does not recognize them because of his blindness and doesn't remember their previous interactions. He cannot define when he went blind, saying the blind have no concept of time. When they request that Lucky sing or think for them, Pozzo reveals that Lucky is dumb (unable to speak). Estragon gets his revenge on Lucky, kicking him until he hurts his own foot. He retreats to take a nap. Pozzo recovers himself enough to order Lucky to rise and take his burdens, which include a bag of sand. Pozzo and Lucky continue on their journey, apparently falling again shortly after their exit.
Lucky and Pozzo return (again) significantly changed since their appearance in Act 1. As if viewed in a mirror, part of their dynamic has been reversed. The suddenly blind Pozzo is now pitifully dependent on Lucky and simply keeps up the appearance of being in control. He actually drops Lucky's rope when they fall, and a number of minutes pass before he orders Lucky to return it to him. While they lie in a heap on the ground, Lucky is called Cain and Pozzo answers to the name Abel, a biblical reference further suggesting that they have exchanged the roles of victim and aggressor. This seems to be Lucky's opportunity to free himself from his restraints, but he shows no inclination to do so, obediently returning the rope to Pozzo so they can continue on as they were.
That Lucky and Pozzo are tied together by more than the rope is further demonstrated by the loss of Lucky's voice and Pozzo's sight. Pozzo even predicts that they will die "the same day, the same second," though Pozzo seems also to be saying that everyone's life is so short their birth and death occur simultaneously. Lucky seems, in a way, to rely on his role as a slave to function, staying passively on the ground until Pozzo orders him up. Neither Pozzo nor Lucky ever seems to question his role, suggesting that Pozzo's rope might be a symbol of those things humanity uses to restrain and oppress itself as much as the external oppression of slavery.
Most of the action in this section centers on the characters' absurdly being unable to get up for no apparent reason after falling. In addition to being a humorous bit of slapstick comedy, this could represent how these four characters are trapped in place by nothing more tangible than their own expectations. When Estragon notices a cloud above them, he asks, "Let's pass on now to something else, do you mind?" And just like that—they are able to get up—suggesting they could also free themselves from their endless waiting for Godot by simply passing on to something else. Estragon seems very close to doing so, more and more frequently urging Vladimir to just go, even briefly exiting the stage. But without Vladimir's support, he never successfully leaves. Unfortunately, Vladimir cannot give up his expectation that Godot will come and provide them with purpose and meaning, and they remain trapped in their current circumstances.
Vladimir's monologue about whether to help Pozzo get up contains some of the most positive and inspiring statements in the play, but it is unfortunately rooted in self-delusion. He argues it is not every day that he and Estragon are personally needed, and they should show the best of humanity by helping before they miss their chance. Pozzo's cries for help are made to "all mankind," and here and now "all mankind is us, whether we like it or not." They are indeed Everymen and have a responsibility to act with humanity. Vladimir goes on to reason that he and Estragon are "blessed" because they know their purpose is to wait for Godot. This statement is of course incongruent, absurd, and illogical, because the audience can see it's this "purpose" that is trapping them in endless waiting so intolerable that they regularly consider suicide.
Time again becomes an issue when Vladimir tries to confirm his theory that they were all in the same place only a day ago, asking Pozzo when he went blind. Pozzo reacts violently, saying the "blind have no notion of time." Of course, this is true in a very concrete way; those without any sight are cut off from the cycles of light and dark that humans use to literally define their days. Estragon fancifully hopes Pozzo's blindness allows him to see the future, like prophets in Greek myth. (In another Greek reference, Estragon exclaims that they are holding up Pozzo like caryatids, or columns carved into shapes of female figures.)
Vladimir's pestering him about time prompts Pozzo to make a famously dark summary of human existence: "They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more." This picture of birth leading directly to death, with life (the gleam of light) not lasting long enough to accomplish anything, suggests that humanity's whole existence is meaningless.