Waiting for Godot

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Boy Character Analysis

The unnamed boy who brings a message from Godot in both acts. Both times, he tells Vladimir and Estragon that Godot is not coming, but will come the next day. It is unclear whether the same boy comes in both acts, or whether these are two different characters. In act two, the boy claims to be different from the boy of act one, but then again Pozzo claims in act two that he did not meet Vladimir and Estragon in act one. The boy describes working under Godot as if on a farm or plantation, where he watches over Godot's animals. When the boy asks Vladimir if he would like to send a message to Godot, Vladimir asks him to tell Godot simply that he saw Vladimir.

Boy Quotes in Waiting for Godot

The Waiting for Godot quotes below are all either spoken by Boy or refer to Boy. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Grove Press edition of Waiting for Godot published in 1994.
Act 1 Quotes

You don't know me?
No Sir.
It wasn't you came yesterday?
No Sir.
This is your first time?
Yes Sir.

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Boy (speaker)
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

When the Boy arrives bringing a message from Godot, Vladimir and Estragon interrogate him briefly. They question why he is so late and whether he has come before, establishing what will come to be a potentially cyclic pattern.

Vladimir’s belief that the same Boy came yesterday reveals a similar uncertainty that he held with Lucky and Pozzo. Able, unlike Estragon, to connect individual memories into larger narratives, Vladimir believes that the events of the play are repeating themselves—and that the same characters resurface again and again as a result. If true, this would define a structure of meaning for Vladimir beyond “Nothing to be done,” for he could interpret patterns and see the Boy as a prior acquaintance.

Yet the Boy refuses to affirm this wish. Instead he plays the childlike role of Estragon that situates their interaction in the eternal present. In doing so, he casts the information he will tell about Godot as novel and important, whereas a cyclical model would imply that it has been said again and again. The entire merit of waiting for Godot seems to rest, then, on Vladimir’s now undermined ability to trust his memory.

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Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won't come this evening but surely tomorrow.

Related Characters: Boy (speaker), Godot
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

After the interrogation from Vladimir and Estragon, the Boy finally gives his message. But that memo does not convey much real meaning, and rather serves to revert the characters to their bored state of waiting.

This rhetoric of expected arrival further casts Godot as a religious symbol. Though he is presumed to offer some kind of eternal salvation for the characters, his presence is constantly delayed and merely promised by others. At this point in the play, the emptiness of these words is not quite clear, for the Boy has only appeared once. But already Vladimir’s comments on how events and people seem to be repeating themselves indicate that the Boy may have said these words before. That is to say, perhaps the lengthy, nihilism-induced wait for Godot has been caused by a series of forgotten “but surely tomorrow”s.

Tell him... (he hesitates)... tell him you saw us. (Pause.) You did see us, didn't you?

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Godot, Boy
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

As the Boy leaves, Vladimir makes this desperate appeal to human recognition. He first asks the Boy to represent them to Godot, but more simply just asks to have been seen.

Recognition is, by now, one of Vladimir’s fixations. He has repeatedly claimed to recall and identify other characters, but they refuse to affirm him in return. And, as a result, Vladimir has begun to doubt his own mental capacities. Thus for the boy to see them and tell Godot about them would signal far more than just conveying simple information. For Vladimir, it would imply that they have been remembered—and that they are significant and meaningful human beings. Beneath this appeal also lies a deep skepticism in even the most simple of human processes: vision. Considering the twilight setting and the motif of blindness in the second act, Vladimir becomes concerned that his existential worries are perhaps the result of the most simple misrecognition: an inability to even see other people.

Act 2 Quotes

Tell him... (he hesitates)... tell him you saw me and that... (he hesitates)... that you saw me. (Pause. Vladimir advances, the Boy recoils. Vladimir halts, the Boy halts. With sudden violence.) You're sure you saw me, you won't come and tell me tomorrow that you never saw me!

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Pozzo, Boy
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

As the Boy departs again, having promised that Godot will come the next day, Vladimir grows increasingly desperate. He insists that the Boy inform Godot of their interaction and once more appeals to the idea that the Boy has recognized him.

These lines replay the interaction between Vladimir and the Boy that transpired in the first act. Except here, Vladimir’s tone and stage directions are marked by uncertainty and rashness. Twice, “he hesitates,” unsure whether to say the same lines he knows he is repeating. And it is presumably his horror at having become repetitive that causes him to react with such anger to the Boy. Vladimir’s frustration, then, is directed both externally and internally: both toward those who seem to be duping him into believing these events have not already transpired, and toward himself for potentially believing too much in his conviction that they have.

What was before a question to the Boy—“You did see us, didn't you?” thus becomes a demand. Beckett demonstrates how the environment of the play, in which characters negate Vladimir’s memory and sense perceptions, could very well cause someone to grow irrational. His character becomes a case study on the value of remembering, for his insistence brings nothing but vexation.

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Boy Character Timeline in Waiting for Godot

The timeline below shows where the character Boy appears in Waiting for Godot. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Time Theme Icon
...whether Lucky and Pozzo were the same people he knew from before, or different. A boy calls from off-stage and enters. Estragon and Vladimir yell at him to approach. The boy... (full context)
Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
The boy says he was afraid of Lucky and Pozzo, which is why he is late. Vladimir... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
Estragon lets go of the boy and covers his face, telling Vladimir that he has been unhappy for longer than he... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
Modernism and Postmodernism Theme Icon
The boy finally delivers his message: "Mr. Godot told me to tell you that he won't come... (full context)
Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
Vladimir tells the boy he can leave, and the boy asks what message he should bring back to Godot.... (full context)
Act 2
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
The boy from yesterday enters. Vladimir asks if the boy recognizes him, but the boy says he... (full context)
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
Vladimir asks the boy what Mr. Godot does. The boy says Godot does nothing. Vladimir asks whether Godot has... (full context)
Time Theme Icon
Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
Vladimir grabs the boy and violently asks him, "You're sure that you saw me, you won't come and tell... (full context)