The Dumb Waiter

by

Harold Pinter

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Revolvers  Symbol Icon

Ben and Gus’s revolvers symbolize obedience to authority and the consequences of challenging authority. Ben, the senior partner and more compliant of the play’s two central characters, keeps his revolver polished and regularly inspects it to ensure that it’s in working order. This shows his commitment to his job—and more importantly, to obeying authority. Gus, by contrast, doesn’t polish his revolver and doesn’t inspect it before a job, and this leads Ben to accuse Gus of slacking on the job. Gus’s poorly maintained gun thus reflects his wavering obedience to authority and propensity to challenge the orders their boss, Wilson, gives them rather than obey them without question, as Ben does. When Ben criticizes Gus for not properly maintaining his gun, he’s really criticizing Gus for Gus’s skepticism of authority. But if having a polished and loaded revolver symbolizes a person’s willingness to obey authority, it follows that a willingness to obey authority is what keeps someone armed and protected against danger. At the very end of the play, unarmed Gus re-enters the room through the right-hand door, revealing himself to be the target of Ben’s hit as Ben raises and aims his revolver at Gus. In his vulnerable and doomed state, the unarmed Gus becomes a symbol for the power one loses when one disobeys authority, sets out on their own, and no longer enjoys the protections that come with existing within a broader social system.

Revolvers Quotes in The Dumb Waiter

The The Dumb Waiter quotes below all refer to the symbol of Revolvers . 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:
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
).
The Dumb Waiter Quotes

GUS. This is some place. No tea and biscuits.

BEN. Eating makes you lazy, mate. You’re getting lazy, you know that? You don’t want to get slack on your job.

GUS. Who me?

BEN. Slack, mate, slack.

GUS. Who me? Slack?

BEN. Have you checked your gun? You haven’t even checked your gun. It looks disgraceful, anyway. Why don’t you ever polish it?

Related Characters: Ben (speaker), Gus (speaker), Wilson
Related Symbols: Revolvers
Page Number: 108-109
Explanation and Analysis:

The door right opens sharply. BEN turns, his revolver levelled at the door.
GUS stumbles in.
He is stripped of his jacket, waistcoat, tie, holster and revolver.
He stops, body stooping, his arms at his sides.
He raises his head and looks at BEN.
A long silence.
They stare at each other.

Related Characters: Ben, Gus, Wilson
Related Symbols: Revolvers
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Dumb Waiter PDF

Revolvers Symbol Timeline in The Dumb Waiter

The timeline below shows where the symbol Revolvers appears in The Dumb Waiter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Dumb Waiter
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
...leads to a passage to their right. Ben lies on the left bed reading a newspaper. Gus is sitting on the right bed, struggling to tie his shoes. The men are... (full context)
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
Absurdism and Meaninglessness  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
...Gus stares at Ben a moment, then he goes to his bed and takes a revolver out from under his pillow. He walks to the door, opens it, and peeks outside—but... (full context)
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
Absurdism and Meaninglessness  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
...Gus is so upset. Gus explains that he likes tea “before.” Ben picks up his revolver, holds it up to the light, and begins to polish it. He tells Gus that... (full context)
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
Absurdism and Meaninglessness  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
...for Gus to approach the wall, and Gus does. He taps the wall with his revolver and finds that the wall is hollow. Gus puts the revolver down on his bed.... (full context)
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
Absurdism and Meaninglessness  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
Ben holds his revolver as Gus approaches the dumb waiter and draws out a piece of paper. He reads... (full context)
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
Absurdism and Meaninglessness  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
...Ben accuses Gus of “getting lazy” and “slack[ing] on [the] job.” He gestures toward Gus’s gun and points out that Gus hasn’t even polished it. Gus tries to polish his revolver... (full context)
Absurdism and Meaninglessness  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
...and cooks—it takes a lot of effort to make an Ormitha Macarounada. Gus places his gun in his holster. Then he anxiously wonders when they’ll get out of here—isn’t it about... (full context)
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
...The man will see Ben and walk toward him. Then Ben will take out his gun. The man will freeze. Then he’ll turn around and see Gus. (full context)
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
...then. Gus observes that Ben has left out the step where Gus takes out his gun—and he’s never left out this part before. Ben backtracks. Gus will take out his gun,... (full context)
Class Anxiety and Power  Theme Icon
Absurdism and Meaninglessness  Theme Icon
Obedience to Authority  Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality  Theme Icon
Ben gets up and adjusts the revolver in his holster. Gus gets up and announces that he’s going to grab a glass... (full context)