Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Some Seriously Philosophical Root Veggies
Carrots and turnips are in one sense just a gag reel for Vladimir and Estragon’s comic bits. But we're interested in their disagreement over the vegetable:
Fancy that. (He raises what remains of the carrot by the stub of leaf, twirls it before his eyes.) Funny, the more you eat the worse it gets.
With me it's just the opposite. (1.278-9)
On the one hand, this could be a completely meaningless conversation—the point is simply that Vladimir is in disagreement, playing at opposites, adding to the bickering duality between himself and Gogo.
On the other hand, the carrot could be about the meaning of life. Exclamation point! Okay, so the carrot probably isn’t about the meaning of life. But it could be a hint as to the differences between the way Vladimir and Estragon live their lives.
Vladimir’s subsequent comment, an addendum to his carrot claim, is:
I get used to the muck as I go along.
Nothing you can do about it.
No use struggling.
One is what one is.
No use wriggling.
The essential doesn't change.
Nothing to be done. (1.281-290)
He resigns himself to banality. Estragon, on the other hand, wearies as time passes—much like the weary moon he observes in Act 2. When Pozzo later dishes about smoking, he claims:
(having lit his pipe) The second is never so sweet . . . (he takes the pipe out of his mouth, contemplates it) . . . as the first I mean. (He puts the pipe back in his mouth.) But it's sweet just the same. (1.400)
This is a third and distinct answer to the carrot question.