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by Samuel Beckett

Endgame Lines 513 – 689 Summary

  • Hamm says that it is time for his story. He asks if Clov wants to listen to it, and Clov says that he does not. Hamm tells Clov to ask Nagg if he wants to listen to the story. Clov goes and checks the bin, but finds that Nagg is asleep. Hamm tells him to wake Nagg. Clov wakes Nagg with the alarm. Something unintelligible comes out of the bin, and Clov tells Hamm that Nagg doesn't want to listen to his story.
  • Hamm promises Nagg a bon-bon. Clov stoops and consults. He reports that Nagg wants a sugarplum, and Hamm says that he will give it to him. Clov announces that it is a deal. Clov goes to the door and halts in the frame. Nagg's hands appear, and then his head emerges.
  • Clov asks if Hamm believes in the life to come, and Hamm says that his life was always that. Clov exits. Hamm is proud, and thinks that he zinged Clov that time.
  • Nagg announces that he is listening. Hamm calls him a scoundrel and asks why Nagg fathered him. Nagg says that he didn't know. Hamm asks what he didn't know. Nagg says that he didn't know that the result would be Hamm. He asks if he can get a sugarplum, and Hamm says that he can have it after the audition.
  • Nagg asks if he swears. Hamm says that he does, but Nagg wants to know what he swears on. Hamm says that he swears on his honor, and after a pause, they both laugh heartily.
  • Nagg tries to bargain for two, so as to give one to Nell, but Hamm insists that there will only be one and yells at him to be silent.
  • Hamm wonders where he was, and begins by saying that things are finished, or at least nearly finished. He says that there will be no more speech, and again ponders what it is that is dripping in his head. He thinks that maybe it is a vein or an artery. Then he decides to turn to story time.
  • He begins by talking about a man who was very pale and thin, crawling toward Hamm on his belly. Then Hamm realizes that he has already done that part.
  • Hamm now begins again by talking about how he lit his pipe and drew a few puffs and asked the man what he wanted. He begins yet once more by saying that it was a very cold and bitter day, but it was around Christmas so that was not so unusual. He claims the temperature was measured by the thermometer.
  • Hamm narrates: he asks the man what ill will blew him Hamm's way, and when the man raises his face, it was black with mingled dirt and tears. He tells the man not to look at him, and the man drops his head and mumbles, which Hamm presumes was an apology.
  • Hamm says that he is a busy man and he must make the final touches before the festivities, which the man should know about. He then forcefully asks the man why he has invaded his privacy.
  • Hamm starts out again by saying that it was a bright and glorious day, fifty by the heliometer, but the sun was already sinking down among the dead. He admires his phrasing.
  • Hamm recalls telling the man to present his petition so that Hamm can resume his labors. The man begins his story (in Hamm's narrated voice) by saying that he has a little boy from a certain hole a good half-day away. The man tells him that the place is not inhabited – that it is just him and the child. Hamm inquires about the situation at Kov, beyond the gulf, and the man tells him that not a sinner lives. Hamm says that the man can't expect him to believe that he left his child alone there while he came to petition Hamm.
  • Hamm commences still another time by saying that it was a howling day, a hundred by the anenometer. He says that the wind tore up the bare pines and swept them away, but decides that the phrasing is a bit feeble.
  • Hamm again recalls telling the man to speak up and tell Hamm what he wants. The man asks for bread for his child, and then he asks for corn. Hamm admits to the man that he does have corn in his granaries, but Hamm wants the petitioner to think about what happens after he goes back to the boy with the corn and makes him a pot and a half of porridge. He wonders what happens after the color comes back into the boy's cheeks, and then admits that he has lost patience.
  • He tells the man, "Use your head, can't you, use your head, you're on earth, there's no cure for that!" (1.537).
  • Hamm tries again by saying that it was a very dry day, zero by the hygrometer. He angrily asks the man what he imagines – if the earth will return in the spring and they will all be saved.
  • Hamm recalls cooling down and getting the man to tell him that the man traveled for three days to get there, and he has left his child deep in sleep.
  • Hamm cuts to the chase and says that he took the man into his service because he imagined that he was on his deathbed. He tells the man that, if he was careful, he could die a natural death, in peace and comfort. But the man asked him to take in the child as well—if he were still alive.
  • Hamm recalls that the man was down on his hands and knees glaring at him with mad defiant eyes. Hamm gets distracted and says that he will soon be finished with his story unless he brings in other characters. He wonders where he would find other characters, where he would look. He whistles and Clov enters and Hamm asks that they all pray to God.
  • Nagg calls for his sugarplum, and Clov shouts that there is a rat in the kitchen. Hamm is astonished, and asks if there are still rats. Clov says that there's one in the kitchen.
  • Hamm asks if Clov hasn't exterminated him. He says half, but he was disturbed by Hamm's whistle. Hamm asks if the rat can't get away, and Clov says no. Hamm says that Clov can finish him later, and again asks that they all pray to God.
  • Nagg calls for his sugarplum. Hamm says that God comes first. Hamm asks if Clov is right, and Clov unenthusiastically says, "off they go." Hamm asks Nagg, who clasps his hands, closes his eyes, and beings to gabble the Our Father, a Catholic prayer.
  • Hamm calls for silence and asks where their manners are. He says that now they begin. They all are silent and prayerful, but then abandon the attitude and become discouraged. Hamm asks Well?
  • Clov mocks the lack of hope and asks about Hamm's prayer. Hamm curses, and asks Nagg. Nagg says wait (he is still praying), but then abandons his attitude and says "Nothing doing!" (1.556)
  • Hamm cries out, "The bastard! He doesn't exist!" (1.557) Clov says not yet, and Nagg calls for his sugarplum. Hamm tells Nagg that there are no more sugarplums.
  • Nagg says that it is only natural that he is Hamm's father. He admits that if it hadn't been Nagg, it would have been someone else; nonetheless, he says that's no excuse. He speaks of Turkish Delight (a gooey, marshmallow-like candy covered with powdered sugar), which no longer exists. He thinks that one day he will ask Hamm for it, and Hamm will promise it to him. He says that one must live with the times.
  • After a pause, Nagg asks Hamm whom he called out to when he was a tiny boy frightened in the dark. He asks if Hamm called his mother, but then says that Hamm called Nagg. Nagg acknowledges that they let Hamm cry, and then they moved him out of earshot so they could sleep in peace.
  • After a pause, Nagg notes that he was asleep, happy as a king, and then Hamm woke him up to have him listen to him even though he didn't really have to. After another pause, Nagg hopes that the day will come when Hamm really does need Nagg to listen to him, when he needs to hear his voice – any voice.
  • Nagg hopes that he will survive until that day comes when Hamm will call for Nagg as Hamm did when he was a tiny boy frightened in the dark and Nagg was his only hope.
  • Nagg knocks two separate times on Nell's bin and calls for her, but when she doesn't emerge, he sinks back into his bin and closes the lid behind him. There is a pause.
  • Hamm says that their revels now are ended, and gropes for the dog, only to find that it is no longer there.
  • Clov tells Hamm that it isn't a real dog, and it can't go anywhere. Hamm continues to grope, insisting that the dog is not there. Clov says that the dog has lain down, and Hamm asks Clov to give him the dog. Clov picks up the dog and gives it to Hamm, who hold it in his arms and then throws it away. He calls the dog a dirty brute.
  • Clov begins to pick up things on the ground, and Hamm asks what he is doing.
  • Clov says that he is putting things in order, and then says fervently that he will clear everything away. Hamm scoffs at order.
  • Clov says, "I love order. It's my dream. A world where all would be silent and still and each thing in its last place, under the last dust" (1.569).
  • Hamm asks Clov what in God's name he thinks he is doing. Clov repeats that he is doing his best to create a little order.
  • Hamm tells him to drop it, and Clov immediately drops everything that he has picked up. He supposes that the things might as well be there on the floor as elsewhere, and heads for the door.
  • Hamm asks what is wrong with his feet.
  • Clov wonders what Hamm is talking about, and Hamm calls him a tramp. Clov says that he must have put on his boots. Hamm asks if his slippers were hurting him. Clov says that he will leave Hamm.
  • Hamm cries that Clov should not.
  • Clov asks what there is to keep him there, and Hamm replies, "the dialogue." Hamm says that he has got on with his story, and that it is going well, and that he wants Clov to ask how far he has gotten.
  • Clov asks (as though without prompting) about his story. Hamm pretends to be surprised and asks what story he's referring to. Clov says the one that he has been telling himself all his days. Hamm asks if Clov is referring to his chronicle, and Clov says that's the one.
  • There is a pause, and Hamm angrily demands that Clov keep the dialogue going. Clov says that he hopes Hamm has gotten on with it.
  • Hamm modestly says that he has not gotten very far, and thinks that there are days where one is not inspired. He says that, on those days, there is nothing you can do but wait; one can't force it. He says he has gotten on with a little just the same, due to technique. He irritably repeats that he has gotten on with it just the same.
  • Clov acts admiring, and wonders at the fact that Hamm could get on with his story in spite of all his distractions.
  • Hamm again acts modest and says that he has not made it very far but that it is better than nothing.
  • Clov wonders if it is possible for something to be better than nothing. Hamm says that he will tell him how it goes, and begins by saying that "he" was crawling on his belly.
  • Clov asks who, and Hamm asks what, and Clov repeats by clarifying he wants to know who the "he" was who was crawling on his belly.
  • Hamm is indignant, and says that he meant yet another. Clov says "Ah him! I wasn't sure!" (1.599).
  • Hamm continues to tell about how the man whined for bread for his brat, and was offered a job as a gardener. Clov bursts out laughing, and Hamm asks what is so funny.
  • Clov finds the fact that he was offered a job as a gardener very funny. Hamm asks if it was that that tickles him, and Clov says that must be it. Hamm asks if it mightn't be the bread, and Clov wonders if it is the brat.
  • Hamm admits that the whole thing is comical.
  • After reflection, Clov says that he couldn't guffaw again. Hamm says the same. Hamm continues: before accepting Hamm's invitation, the man asks if he could have his little boy with him.
  • Clov butts in and asks what age, the boy is and Hamm says tiny. Clov says that he would have climbed trees, and Hamm says he could have done all the little odd jobs. Clov says that then he would have grown up, and Hamm concedes that this is likely.
  • Clov tells him to keep going, but Hamm says that is all. He stops there. Clov asks if he sees how it goes on, and Hamm says more or less. Clov asks if it will soon be the end (this is Clov's story, if you haven't caught it). Hamm says he is afraid that it will.
  • Clov laughs and says that Hamm will make up another.
  • Hamm says that he doesn't know. He feels rather drained after the prolonged creative effort. Hamm thinks that if he could drag himself to the sea, then he would make a pillow of sand for his head and then the tide would come.
  • Clov points out there is no more tide.
  • Hamm orders Clov to go and see if Nell is dead. He does, and says it looks like it. Hamm raises his toque in salute, and puts it back on again.
  • Hamm asks about Nagg. His hand is on his toque, ready for salute. Clov checks, and says it doesn't look like it. Hamm takes his hand off his toque.
  • Hamm asks what Nagg is doing, and Clov says that he is crying.
  • Hamm says that then he is living. Hamm asks if Clov ever had an instant of happiness, and Clov says, not to his knowledge.
  • Hamm orders Clov to bring Hamm under the window because he wants to feel the light on his face. Hamm asks Clov if he remembers, in the beginning, when Clov would take Hamm for a spin. Clov used to keep his hands too high on the chair so that he nearly tipped Hamm out. Hamm remembers that it was great fun, but says that then, they got into a routine of it.
  • Clov stops the chair under the right window. Hamm is surprised that they are already there, and asks if it is light. Clov responds that it isn't dark.
  • Hamm angrily insists that he is asking if its light. Clov says yes. Hamm asks if the curtain is closed, and Clov says no. Hamm asks which window it is, and Clov says the earth.
  • Hamm exclaims that he knew it. He is angry that there is no light there, and wants to go to the other window. Clov pushes him there. Hamm tilts back his head and says that that is what he calls light. He says that it feels like a ray of sunshine. He wonders if it's not.
  • Clov says that it is not. Hamm asks for clarification, and Clov repeats that it is not a ray of sunshine.
  • Hamm asks if he is very white. Then, angrily, he asks again if he is very white. Clov says that Hamm is no more so than usual. Hamm demands that he open the window, and Clov asks why.
  • Hamm says that he wants to hear the sea. Clov says that he wouldn't hear it, and Hamm asks if this is true even if Clov opens the window.
  • Clov says no, he would not hear it in any case. Hamm wonders if it is not worthwhile opening the window, and Clov says that it is not.
  • Hamm violently demands that Clov open it. Clov gets up on the ladder and opens the window. Hamm asks if Clov has opened it, and Clov says that he has. Hamm asks if he swears, and Clov says yes.
  • Hamm says that it must be very calm, and then violently repeats the statement as a question: is it very calm? Clov confirms this.
  • Hamm says it must because there are no more navigators. He wonders that Clov is suddenly not making much conversation, and wonder if Clov feels well. Clov says that he is cold.
  • Hamm asks what month they are in, and then tells Clov to close the window, because they are going back. Clov closes it, gets down from the ladder, and pushes the chair back.
  • Again, Hamm yells at him for standing behind the chair because it gives him the shivers. Clov moves beside it.
  • Hamm calls twice for his father. He asks Clov to go check and see if Nagg heard Hamm. Clov does, and says that Nagg did.
  • Hamm asks if Nagg heard him both times. Clov again consults with Nagg, and says that Nagg only heard Hamm once. Hamm asks if it was the first time or the second. Clov again consuls with Nagg, and says he doesn't know.
  • Hamm thinks it must have been the second. Clov says that they will never know and closes the lid.
  • Hamm asks if he is still crying, and Clov says no. Hamm wonders that the dead go so quickly. He asks what Nagg is doing. Clov says that Nagg is sucking his biscuit. Hamm says that life goes on.
  • Clov returns to his place beside Hamm's chair, and Hamm asks for the rug because he is freezing.
  • Clov says that there are no more rugs. Hamm asks Clov to kiss him. Clov says he will not. Hamm asks if he will kiss him on the forehead, and Clov says that he will not kiss him anywhere. Hamm asks for Clov's hand – at least. He asks if Clov will not give him his hand.
  • Clov says that he will not touch him.
  • Hamm asks for the dog, and Clov looks around for it. Hamm then cries out, "no!" Clov clarifies that Hamm does not want the dog, and Hamm says that he does not.
  • Clov says that then he will leave Hamm. Hamm, with his head down, says absently that that is right.
  • Clov stops in the doorway and notes that if he does not kill the rat, it will die.
  • Hamm repeats that that is right. Hamm takes out his handkerchief and holds it before him. He says that they are getting on. He says, "You weep, and weep, for nothing, so as not to laugh, and little by little…you begin to grieve" (1.688). He folds the handkerchief and puts it back in his pocket.
  • Hamm wonders at all those he might have helped and saved, how the place was crawling with them. Hamm repeats that one must use his head on earth because there is no cure for that. He yells that people should get out and love one another: lick one's neighbor as oneself.
  • Hamm, in a calmer mood, says that when it wasn't bread they wanted, it was crumpets. He yells that they should get out of his sight and back to their petting parties. He complains that he does not even have a real dog.
  • Hamm says, "The end is in the beginning and yet you go on" (1.688). He wonders if he could go on with his story, end it, and begin another.
  • Hamm wonders if he can throw himself out on the floor, but when he tries, he cannot. He wonders if he could dig his nails into the cracks of the floor and drag himself forward with his fingers. He pauses.
  • Hamm says that one day it will be the end, and he will be there wondering what brought it on and why it was so long coming. Hamm says that he will be there in the old shelter, alone against the silence and the stillness. He says that he can hold his peace and be quiet and motionless, and then it will all be over. He says that he will have called his father and his son. He will call them multiple times to make sure that they hear.
  • Hamm says that he will say to himself that they will come back. He wonders what will happen then. Hamm thinks that Clov couldn't come back because he has gone too far. He wonders at the kind of fantasies that would arise then. How he would begin to babble like a solitary child who turns himself into several children so they can whisper together in the dark.
  • He recalls the way that moments stack up like grains and all life you wait for it to add up to a life. Hamm wants to get over it.

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