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by Samuel Beckett

Endgame Lines 346 – 512 Summary

  • Clov is now scratching himself in anguish, and shouts that he has a flea.
  • Hamm is astonished that there are still fleas, but Clov confirms that there is at least one, on him. As he scratches, he wonders if it is a crablouse.
  • Hamm is very disturbed, and fears that humanity might start up all over again from that flea. He tells Clov to catch it, for the love of God.
  • Clov says that he will go and get a powder, and exits. Hamm laments the fact that there is a flea.
  • Clov returns with a tin, and announces that he is back with the insecticide. Hamm cries out, "Let him have it!" (1.353) Clov undoes his trousers, pulls them forward and shakes the powder into them. He stops for a second and waits before frenziedly pouring more powder into them. He then stops and waits again.
  • Clov cries out, "the bastard!" Hamm asks if Clov got him. Clov says that it looks like it, unless he's laying doggo (or playing possum). He drops the tin and adjusts his trousers.
  • Hamm corrects him: it's not laying it's lying. Clov asks if this is true, and Hamm tells him to use his head because "If he was laying we'd be bitched" (1.359). Clov now understands.
  • He asks if Hamm would like a pee, and Hamm says that he's already having it. Clov cheers him on and says that's the spirit.
  • Hamm ardently offers that the two of them should go south and make a raft, so that the currents can take them away to other mammals. Clov thinks that would be awful.
  • Hamm claims that he will embark alone, but tells Clov to get working on the raft immediately. Tomorrow, Hamm declares, he will be gone forever. Clov heads for the door and says that he will start right away.
  • Hamm calls for him to wait, and Clov halts. Hamm asks if there will be sharks, and Clov says he doesn't know. He starts out again, but Hamm calls and so Clov halts. Hamm asks if it is time for his painkiller, but Clov violently calls out, "No!" He again starts for the door, but is stopped by Hamm.
  • Hamm asks how Clov's eyes are, and Clov says that they are bad. Hamm asks if he can see, and Clov says Hamm can if he wants to. Hamm asks about his legs, which are also bad. Hamm asks if Clov can walk, and Clov says this is confirmed by the fact that he can come and go.
  • Hamm reminds Clov that he does all of this in Hamm's house. He tells Clov that he will be blind one day, like Hamm is, and then Clov will be a speck in the dark forever. Hamm says that, one day, Clov will sit down and think to get up and get something to eat, only to find that he is unable to do so. Hamm says that Clov will close his eyes to go to sleep, and when Clov opens them, there won't be anything there anymore. Hamm says that he will be surrounded by infinite emptiness, and Clov will be just like a little bit of grit. He says then Clov will know it is like to be like Hamm, but he won't have any company because he has never taken pity on anyone and will no longer have chance to.
  • Clov retorts that this is not certain, and tells Hamm that he has forgotten that Clov can't sit down.
  • Hamm is impatient with this, and says that maybe Clov will lie down or come to a standstill – it doesn't matter.
  • Clov asks if Hamm wants him to leave, and Hamm says, "naturally." Clov says that he will leave, but Hamm says Clov can't go; Clov agrees that he won't leave then. .
  • Hamm asks why Clov doesn't finish them. He promises to tell Clov the combination to the cupboard if Clov swears to kill him. Clov says that he couldn't, and Hamm confirms that then he won't.
  • Clov says that he will leave Hamm because he has things to do.
  • Hamm asks if Clov remembers when he came to this place, but Clov says that he was too small. Hamm asks if Clov remembers his father, but Clov says that it is the same answer. He then goes on to remind Hamm that he has asked Clov these questions millions of times.
  • Hamm says that he loves the old questions: "Ah the old questions, the old answers, there's nothing like them!" (1.397).. Hamm then claims that he was a father to Clov. Clov confirms this, and looks fixedly at Hamm.
  • Hamm goes on to point out that his house was a home to Clov, and Clov again confirms this. Hamm then says proudly that Clov had no father and no home. Clov says that he will leave him.
  • Hamm asks if Clov ever thought of doing one thing, and Clov says never. Hamm says that they are down in a hole, but that beyond the hills, perhaps things are still green. He invokes famous cities, and suggests that maybe Clov wouldn't need to go far. Clov says he can't go far, and then reasserts that he will leave Hamm.
  • Hamm asks if his dog is ready, and Clov says that the dog lacks a leg. Hamm asks if the dog is silky, and Clov says that he is a kind of Pomeranian. Hamm tells Clov to go and get him, but Clov again announces that the dog lacks a leg.
  • Hamm shouts for Clov to go and get the dog. Clov exits, and Hamm says that they are getting on. Clov returns, holding a black toy dog by one of its three legs. Clov announces that Hamm's dog is there, and gives it to Hamm, who fondles it.
  • Hamm asks for confirmation that the dog is white, and Clov says, "nearly." Hamm isn't satisfied by this inexactness, and wants to know if the dog is actually white or not, so Clov acknowledges that he isn't.
  • Hamm tells Clov that he has forgotten the sex, and Clov, frustrated, says that the dog isn't finished. He says that he will put the sex on at the end. Hamm goes on that Clov hasn't put on his ribbon, and Clov again announces that he is not finished, and the ribbon doesn't go on until after the dog is finished.
  • Hamm asks if the dog can stand, and Clov says he doesn't know. Hamm tells him to try, and hands Clov the dog. Clov puts it on the ground, and Hamm asks for it, but Clov tells him to wait. He tries to get the dog to stand on its three legs, but it keeps falling.
  • Hamm asks impatiently if the dog can stand, and Clov says that yes, he's standing. Hamm gropes for it and asks where it is. Clov holds the dog up in the standing position, and tells Hamm where it is. He guides Hamm's hand to the dog's head..
  • Hamm asks if the dog is gazing at him, and Clov says that it is. Hamm wants to know if the dog is gazing as if he wanted to go for a walk, and Clov tells him that that can be the case if Hamm likes. Hamm wants to know if the dog looks like it is begging for a bone, and then tells Clov to leave the dog like that, "standing there imploring me!" (1.435). Clov straightens up, and the dog falls on its side.
  • Clov says that he will leave him.
  • Hamm asks if Clov has had any visions, and Clov says, "less." Hamm asks if Mother Pegg's light is on, and Clov indignantly wonders how anyone's light could be on. Hamm says it is extinguished, and Clov confirms that, naturally, this must be the case.
  • Hamm corrects him – he meant Mother Pegg, not just the light. Clov again goes on that, naturally. she is extinguished. He wonders what is the matter with Hamm today, and Hamm says that he is taking his course. He asks if Mother Pegg is buried, but Clov wonders who would have buried her. Hamm says that he would have.
  • Clov says that he has enough to do without burying people. Hamm points out that Clov will bury him, and Clov says that he won't.
  • Hamm recalls that Mother Pegg was a bonnie one, and a great one for men. Clov says that they were both bonny once, and that it is rare for anyone not to have been—once.
  • Hamm tells him to go and get the gaff (a round pole made of wood or metal that supports the sail of a boat). Clov goes to the door and then halts.
  • Clov wonders why he never refuses, and Hamm tells him it is because Clov is unable to. Clov says that soon, he won't do it any more, and Hamm confirms this by saying that Clov won't be able to. Clov exits.
  • Hamm laments the fact that everything has to be explained to "the creatures" (1.457). Clov returns with the gaff.
  • Clov gives Hamm the gaff, and Hamm tries to move his chair with it – using it like an oar. Hamm asks if he moved, and when Clov says Hamm didn't, he throws down the gaff.
  • Hamm tells him to go and get the oilcan. Clov asks what for, and Hamm tells him it is to oil the castors (the pivoting rollers to which the wheels of Hamm's wheelchair attach. Clov says that he oiled them yesterday. Hamm asks what yesterday means.
  • Clov says, "That means the bloody awful day, long ago, before this bloody awful day. I use the words you taught me. If they don't mean anything any more, teach me others. Or let me be silent" (1.466).
  • Hamm says that he once knew a madman who thought the end of the world had come. The madman was a painter and engraver and Hamm was very fond of him. Hamm used to go to the asylum to try to get the madman to look out the window on the corn and the sails of the fleet, but all the man saw was ashes. Hamm thinks that the madman alone was spared – forgotten – and then wonders if his case was not so unusual.
  • Clov asks when that was, and Hamm says it was way back before Clov was born. Clov praises the days, and Hamm raises his toque in salute.
  • Hamm remembers his fondness for the painter and engraver as he puts his toque on again.
  • Clov says that there are many terrible things, but Hamm thinks that there are not so many now. He calls for Clov, who answers him.
  • Hamm asks if this has gone on long enough, and Clov enthusiastically says yes, before asking what he is referring to. Hamm says that he is referring to this thing, and Clov says that he has always thought so. He asks if it was the same for Hamm, and Hamm gloomily says that the day is like any other day.
  • Clov says that as long as life lasts, one encounters the same inanities, the same trivial things.
  • Hamm says that he can't leave, and Clov says he knows this and that Hamm can't follow him. Hamm asks how he will know if Clov leaves him. Clov quickly responds that if Hamm whistles for him and Clov doesn't come then it means that he has left.
  • Hamm asks if Clov will come and kiss him goodbye, and Clov says that he certainly doesn't think so.
  • Hamm worries that Clov might just be dead in the kitchen, and Clov points out that the result would be the same. Hamm wants to know how he should distinguish between Clov being gone and Clov being dead in his kitchen. Clov points out that, sooner or later he would start to stink.
  • Hamm complains that he already stinks, that the whole place stinks of corpses. Clov says that the whole universe stinks, and Hamm says to hell with the universe.
  • Hamm commands Clov to think of something that will tip him off if Clov leaves. Clov then begins pacing and looking seriously at the ground. Clov cries out that the pain in his legs is so unbelievable that soon he won't be able to think anymore.
  • Hamm says that Clov will not be able to leave him. Clov resumes pacing, and Hamm asks what he is doing.
  • Clov says that he is having an idea. He then halts and says Ah! Hamm marvels at what a brain he has. He asks what the idea was.
  • Clov tells him to wait, and meditates on it, becoming more and more convinced of this idea's merit. He then says that he has it: he will set the alarm (to indicate when he actually leaves Hamm).
  • Hamm admits that this is not one of his bright days, and he needs help. Clov explains that if Hamm whistles him and he doesn't come and the alarm doesn't ring, then he is dead. If the bell does ring, then Clov has left him.
  • Hamm asks if the alarm is working. Clov asks why it wouldn't be, and Hamm says that it wouldn't because it has been worked too much. Clov points out that it has hardly worked at all. Hamm goes on angrily that it might not work because it has worked too little.
  • Clov says that he will go and see, and he exits. The alarm rings, and Clov enters, carrying it. He holds it against Hamm's ear and releases it, letting it ring to the end. He pauses and says that it was fit to wake the dead. He asks if Hamm heard it, and Hamm agrees vaguely.
  • Clov cries that the end of the bell ringing was terrific, but Hamm says that he preferred the middle. He asks if it is time for a painkiller, but Clov (as always) refuses him. He goes to the door and says that he will leave Hamm.

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