Act 2 begins the next day, at the same time and in the same place. Estragon's boots are still on the ground. Vladimir enters, examines one of Estragon's boots, and then begins to sing. He sings a nonsensical song about a dog who steals a crust of bread from a kitchen and then is beaten to death.
Act two will repeat many of the events of act one, showing how time operates repetitively in the play. Vladimir's nonsensical song is humorous, but also tragic—Lucky and Estragon are not so different from the song's suffering, physically abused dog.
Estragon enters and Vladimir tries to embrace him, but Estragon pushes him away. Vladimir asks where Estragon spent the night and whether "they" beat him. Estragon tells Vladimir not to touch him or ask him questions, but Vladimir tells Estragon to look at him. They look at each other and then embrace.
While Estragon is at first indignant, he soon embraces Vladimir, his only companion amid all his suffering (physical and otherwise).
Estragon remarks, "What a day!" and Vladimir tells him the day isn't over yet. Estragon tells him he heard his singing and Vladimir says, "one is not master of one's moods," and that he has felt good today. He tells Estragon he missed him last night, but was happy at the same time.
Vladimir's assertion that he is not in control of his own moods is both absurd and an evaluation of the radical lack of freedom in the bleak world he inhabits, and, again, a suggestion that people are in some sense controlled by their bodies as opposed to the other way around—that life itself is a kind of prison.
Estragon says he too feels better alone. Vladimir asks him why he keeps "crawling back" then, and suggests it's because Estragon can't defend himself. He says he would have stopped "them" from beating Estragon. Estragon says Vladimir couldn't have stopped them, because there were ten of them.
As Vladimir claims, Estragon is dependent on him. However, he also relies on Estragon. The two companions are codependent and lonely without each other.
Vladimir says that he would have stopped Estragon from doing whatever he did to provoke the beating, but Estragon says he wasn't doing anything, and he doesn't know why he was beaten. Vladimir says that something he was doing or something in the way he was doing it must have caused the beating, but Estragon insists, "I wasn't doing anything."
Estragon was beaten for no reason, in line with the absurd, unexplained suffering of the rest of the play. Such suffering happens for no reason at all; it happens just because you are alive.
Vladimir says that Estragon must be happy now that they are together again. Estragon is not sure but Vladimir has him repeat the words, "I am happy." Estragon then asks, "What do we do now, now that we are happy?" and Vladimir suggests they wait for Godot. Estragon wonders what will happen if Godot doesn't come, but Vladimir says that things are different today than yesterday.
Vladimir tells Estragon to look at the nearby tree. Estragon asks if it was there yesterday and Vladimir says it was. Estragon tells him he "dreamt it," but Vladimir says he may have just forgotten about it. He asks Estragon if he forgot about Pozzo and Lucky, as well, and Estragon asks who they are.
Estragon's absurd forgetfulness allows time to repeat itself in the play, as he forgets that he has already been in this same place, doing the same thing (waiting), and encountering the same people.
Estragon remembers "a lunatic" who kicked his shins and a man who gave him a bone. Vladimir tells him those people were Lucky and Pozzo. Estragon asks if this all happened yesterday at this very place and Vladimir is amazed that Estragon doesn't recognize the place. Estragon is suddenly upset, asking, "What is there to recognize?"
Unlike Estragon, Vladimir has a memory of the past and so can realize that they are trapped in a life that keeps repeating itself. Estragon's question implies that there is nothing worth recognizing in the world, a deeply nihilistic sentiment.
Vladimir mentions "the Macon country," but Estragon says he's never been there. He says he's "puked my puke of a life away here...in the Cackon country," though Vladimir says he thought they were together in the Macon country, picking grapes for a man whose name he cannot remember. Estragon says this is possible.
Again, Estragon has no memory of the past. This means that he also lacks a sense of his own identity, of who he is, because he can't remember anything about his life.
Estragon says that things would be better if he and Vladimir parted. Vladimir says that Estragon always says this, but always comes back to him. Estragon tells him it would be best to kill him, "like the other." Vladimir asks who he is referring to, and Estragon answers, "like billions of others." He tells Vladimir that they should talk in the meantime.
Estragon says that they should talk so they don't hear "all the dead voices," that talk about their lives, making a noise that sounds like feathers, leaves, or ashes. There is a long pause, and Vladimir urges Estragon to say something, "anything at all!" Estragon asks what they should do, and Vladimir again answers that they should wait for Godot.
When Estragon and Vladimir stop talking, they must confront the emptiness of their lives—the fact that they have nothing to do but wait for Godot. Thus they are compelled to fill their time with absurd, often nonsensical conversation.
The two struggle to find something to talk about. Vladimir says "it's the start that's difficult." He asks Estragon to help him find something to talk about, and Estragon tells him he's trying. The two disagree over whether listening prevents one from thinking. Estragon suggests they ask each other questions. Vladimir suddenly asks, "Where are all these corpses from?"
The two characters are ironically talking about how they have nothing to talk about. But Beckett quickly mixes this comedy with Vladimir's deeply troubling and unexplained reference to corpses.
Vladimir says that "to have thought" is the worst thing of all, and the two ponder whether they have ever thought. Estragon comments that they are talking well now, but Vladimir notes that now they need to find something else to talk about. They both concentrate during a long silence.
Just like talking about not being able to talk, thinking about whether one has ever thought is ironic and funny. Vladimir and Estragon desperately seek something to talk about to relieve their intense boredom.
Vladimir asks what they were talking about at the beginning of the evening, and recalls the opening of act two, when they embraced and were happy. He tells Estragon to look at the tree and notes that it has leaves, whereas yesterday it was bare. He is shocked that the leaves appeared overnight, and Estragon sees this as proof that they weren't actually here the previous day.
Vladimir accepts, for the moment, that they were not in this place the previous day, and asks Estragon what they did the previous night, then. Estragon says they "blathered," about "nothing in particular." He says this has been going on for fifty years now. Vladimir asks if he remembers the sun and the moon, Lucky and Pozzo. Estragon remembers the bones Pozzo gave him and when Lucky kicked him.
For fifty years, apparently, Vladimir and Estragon have been doing nothing, as well as talking about nothing. (But, given the strangeness of time in the play, it is unclear whether we should take this measure of time literally.)
Vladimir lifts up the legs of Estragon's pants and sees the wound from Lucky's kick, which would suggest that they were here yesterday. He asks Estragon where his boots are, and Estragon doesn't know. He says he threw them away because they were hurting. Vladimir spots the boots and says they are exactly where they were left yesterday.
Unlike Estragon, who accepts his strange disorientation in time and space, Vladimir tries to pin down exactly where and when they are, and whether it's the same place they were yesterday. The boots seem proof of this.
Estragon says the boots are not his, because they are not the right color. Vladimir says someone must have taken Estragon's boots and left these other ones. Estragon says he's tired and wants to leave, but Vladimir says they can't—they have to wait here for Godot. Estragon asks what they will do, and Vladimir says there's nothing they can do.
Yet Estragon's comment that the boots aren't his raises questions: does Estragon even really remember the color of his boots? Did someone simply replace the boots? Is it possible they are in a slightly different reality than they were in act one? Estragon repeats himself again, wanting to leave and Vladimir must remind him that they are stuck here waiting for Godot, with nothing to do.
Vladimir asks if Estragon would like a radish or turnip. Estragon asks if there are any carrots; Vladimir says there are not. He finds a radish in his pocket and gives it to Estragon. Estragon rejects the radish, and says he'll go get a carrot, but he doesn't move at all.
This scene repeats a similar one from act one, but with a radish instead of a carrot. The discrepancy between Estragon saying he will go find a carrot and standing still is humorous.
Vladimir suggests that Estragon try on the boots. He says it would at least pass the time, and that he'll help Estragon put them on. He picks up one of the boots and Estragon raises up his foot. They struggle to get it on, but finally do. Estragon says the boot fits. They put the other boot on, and Estragon says the boots don't hurt, at least "not yet." He says they are too big, but Vladimir responds that he might get socks one day.
Vladimir is willing to help Estragon in order to ease his boredom. His comment about the socks is silly and comical, but at the same time pathetic—the most Estragon can hope for is to find socks some day. Now Estragon can wait for socks just like he waits for Godot.
Estragon sits down and wishes he could sleep. He tries to sleep, but Vladimir tells him to wait and begins singing loudly, repeating the word "bye." Estragon falls asleep, then wakes up and is startled. Vladimir comforts him. Estragon begins to describe his dream, but Vladimir stops him. He tells Estragon to "walk it off," and the two walk around the stage, until Estragon says he's tired. He says he'd rather do nothing than walk.
Vladimir and Estragon both need each other as companions. Here, Vladimir comforts Estragon after his dream. After walking around the stage, the characters return to doing nothing. It is not entirely clear why Vladimir doesn't want to hear Estragon's dream—it may be that such a thing is just too intimate to share in the realm of the play.
Estragon wants to leave, but Vladimir reminds him that they must stay and wait for Godot. Vladimir says Godot will come at nightfall. Estragon says after the night, it will be day again, and asks, "What'll we do, what'll we do!" Vladimir tells him to stop complaining.
Estragon announces that he is going to leave. Vladimir sees Lucky's hat from yesterday lying on the ground. This confirms for him that they are in the right place. He gives Estragon his hat and tries on Lucky's. Estragon puts on Vladimir's hat and gives his own to Vladimir, who puts it on instead of Lucky's, which he gives to Estragon. Estragon puts on Lucky's hat, and Vladimir puts his own hat back on before giving Estragon his hat back. They exchange the hats back and forth.
The exchange of hats back and forth playfully encapsulates the instability of identities in this play where characters fail or refuse to recognize each other and acknowledge other characters' humanity.
Vladimir asks Estragon how he looks in Lucky's hat. Estragon says he looks "hideous," and Vladimir asks if he looks more or less hideous than usual. Estragon says "neither more nor less," and Vladimir says Estragon can keep the hat, then. Estragon says he is going to leave, and Vladimir asks if he wants to "play at Pozzo and Lucky." He imitates Lucky and asks Estragon to act like Pozzo.
The idea that someone in Vladimir's desperate position would care so much about his appearance is rather absurd and comical. Vladimir's idea to act like Pozzo and Lucky raises the question of to what degree any of the characters has a stable identity aside from a similar kind of "playing." It also brings up the question of the power dynamics between any two people, given that the dynamic between Pozzo and Lucky is that of master to slave.
Vladimir encourages Estragon to yell at him like Pozzo. Estragon shouts, "Think, pig!" at Vladimir, who says he cannot. He asks Estragon to command him to dance, but Estragon says he's leaving. Vladimir pretends to be both Pozzo and Lucky. Estragon leaves for a moment and then comes back. They embrace and Vladimir says, "There you are again at last!"
When Estragon leaves even for just a moment, Vladimir becomes intensely lonely. While he earlier asserted that Estragon needed him, we now see that the two companions need each other. They are "tied" to each other.
Estragon says "they" are coming but doesn't know who they are or how many of them there are. Vladimir excitedly says that it must be Godot. He shouts, "We're saved!" Vladimir pulls Estragon toward the edge of the stage, but Estragon leaves by himself. He returns immediately and the two embrace again. Estragon says that "they" are coming, and Vladimir says he and Estragon are surrounded.
Vladimir is again lonely when Estragon leaves for hardly any time. The anonymous "they" keep Estragon and Vladimir in a state of fear and paranoia, though it is not clear who they are (or if they are even real).
Vladimir tells Estragon his only hope is to disappear. He tells Estragon to hide behind the tree. Estragon hides behind it, but realizes the tree does not cover him completely. Estragon asks Vladimir what to do, and he answers, "there's nothing to do."
Estragon's lame attempt at hiding behind the tree is comical. There is nothing for Vladimir and him to do in this situation, or in general.
Estragon brings Vladimir to the right edge of the stage and tells him to be on the lookout. He does the same at the left edge. He asks if Vladimir sees anything coming. Neither of them does. They try to speak at the same time and each politely tell the other to speak first. Their back-and-forth politeness turns into an argument, and Estragon enthusiastically suggests that they pass the time insulting each other.
The characters' exaggerated politeness is absurd and funny, as well as an abrupt change of mood. They suddenly don't seem very worried about the people Estragon thought he heard coming. Are they really in danger? The audience doesn't know what to take seriously and what to laugh at.
They insult each other back and forth and then Estragon decides it's time to make up. They embrace. "How time flies when one has fun!" muses Vladimir. Estragon asks what they should do now, and Vladimir suggests they continue waiting. He says they could do some exercises. They hop from one foot to the other, standing in place. Vladimir suggests they "do the tree," balancing on one foot.
Vladimir and Estragon bizarrely have fun throwing insults back and forth. But, after this brief entertainment they return to their usual activity of waiting and doing nothing. Their desire to be doing anything at all leads to their absurd activities, like "doing the tree."
Pozzo and Lucky enter. Lucky has the rope around his neck as before, and is carrying the same things, but now Pozzo is blind, following closely behind Lucky. Lucky stops when he sees Estragon and Vladimir, and Pozzo continue walking until he bumps into Lucky. Pozzo asks who it is, and Lucky falls down, bringing Pozzo down with him.
Pozzo and Lucky arrive, just like yesterday, though now Pozzo is blind. While Lucky is under Pozzo's control, Pozzo now relies on Lucky, since he can't see. Their codependent relationship is comparable to the companionship of Vladimir and Estragon.
Estragon asks if this is Godot. Vladimir says, "Reinforcements at last!" He says that now they will surely make it through the evening. Pozzo asks for help. Vladimir says that he and Estragon are finally no longer alone, and that now time "flows again already." Estragon says he knew it was Godot, but Vladimir corrects him: it's Pozzo. Pozzo, meanwhile, is still lying on the ground, asking for help. Estragon wants to leave, but Vladimir tells him they are still waiting for Godot.
Vladimir sees the arrival of Pozzo and Lucky as an opportunity to be distracted from his boredom. With them, time seems to "flow again." Estragon does not recognize Pozzo and ignores his plea for help. Vladimir must remind Estragon yet again that they have to stay and wait for Godot.
Vladimir says that Pozzo might have another chicken bone for Estragon, and suggests that they help him up. Estragon asks why Pozzo can't get up and Vladimir says he doesn't know. Pozzo writhes on the ground, unable to stand up. Estragon suggests that they ask Pozzo for a bone before helping him. Vladimir agrees, but worries that Lucky might "get going," and stop them from taking advantage of Pozzo in this way.
Pozzo's inability to get up is somewhat comic as well as tragic and pathetic. Whereas Vladimir was sympathetic to Lucky in act one, here he and Estragon are indifferent to Pozzo's suffering and seek to get something out of helping him up.
Confused, Estragon asks who Lucky is, and Vladimir reminds him of how Lucky kicked Estragon the previous day. He points to Lucky, who is motionless. Estragon asks if they should beat Lucky, and Vladimir says that sounds like a good idea, but he isn't sure if Lucky is asleep or not. He says it would be better "to take advantage of Pozzo's calling for help."
Pozzo continues to cry out for help. Vladimir says that he and Estragon should "do something, while we have the chance." He ponders the situation and whether he and Estragon are needed. He wonders aloud what they are doing here, and then says that the answer is that they are waiting for Godot, or at least for nightfall. He says he and Estragon have kept their appointment. Pozzo again cries out for help.
Vladimir rightly concludes that all he and Estragon are doing is waiting. His absurd, rambling thoughts take precedence over helping a fellow suffering human. Waiting for Godot interferes with helping a fellow in trouble.
Vladimir continues to talk, so Pozzo shouts that he'll pay someone to help him. Estragon asks how much. He says he'd pay one hundred francs, and Estragon says this isn't enough. Pozzo offers two hundred francs. Vladimir says they are "bored to death." He doesn't want to let this potential "diversion" go to waste, so he tries to help Pozzo up, but fails several times and falls down. He asks Estragon to help, but Estragon says he's leaving.
Vladimir thought taking money from Pozzo was beneath his dignity in act one, but now he is ready to take money in return for helping Pozzo, if only so he has something to do while he is "bored to death." In trying to help, Vladimir falls down himself, a pathetic but darkly comic development.
Vladimir begs Estragon not to leave. He and Pozzo both ask Estragon for help. Vladimir promises that he will leave with Estragon if he will help Pozzo and him. Estragon asks if they can leave and never come back. Vladimir says they can go wherever he wants, if he helps.
Vladimir is so desperate not to lose Estragon (and to get up from the ground) that he even promises to abandon waiting for Godot.
Estragon again says he's going to leave. Vladimir says he'll just get up himself, but he is unable to. Estragon asks if Vladimir is going to stay here, and finally extends a hand to help him up. Vladimir pulls on Estragon's hand while trying to get up, and Estragon falls, as well.
Vladimir's unexplained inability to get up is absurd, but can also be seen as a comment on Postmodern life, with Vladimir trapped, but yet constrained by no one in particular. And any effort to help, as Estragon does, results in even more people getting trapped.
Pozzo asks who Estragon and Vladimir are, and Vladimir answers that they are men. Vladimir asks Estragon if he can get up, and he says he doesn't know, but he can't at the moment. Estragon suggests they sleep while they're stuck on the ground. Pozzo continues to cry out, "Pity! Pity!" and Vladimir hits him to shut him up. Pozzo begins to crawl away, and then collapses. Estragon asks, "What do we do now?"
Like Estragon, Pozzo does not remember yesterday and thus fails to recognize Estragon and Vladimir. Pozzo's crawling around on the ground is a strange mix of slapstick comedy and pathetic suffering. Vladimir responds to this suffering violently.
Vladimir says he could crawl over to Pozzo, but Estragon doesn't want Vladimir to leave him. They both call over to Pozzo, but he doesn't respond. Estragon asks if Vladimir is sure that Pozzo is the right name. Vladimir says he thinks Pozzo is dying. Estragon says it would be fun to try calling out different names, to see if Pozzo might respond, but Vladimir says that he is sure the man's name is Pozzo.
Now it is Estragon who irrationally fears losing Vladimir, showing that the two rely on each other mutually. Estragon is comically enthusiastic about trying different names for Pozzo, whom he still fails to recognize from the previous day.
Estragon shouts, "Abel! Abel!" and Pozzo cries out for help. Estragon thinks Abel is the right name. He thinks Lucky might be called Cain, and shouts this name out loud. Pozzo shouts for help again. Estragon suggests he and Vladimir find a new topic of conversation, but neither can think of anything to talk about. Estragon suggests they try to get up, and they both get up easily. Pozzo shouts for help yet again.
Estragon's name mix-up, with its reference to Cain and Abel of the Bible, is absurd and shows the ironic distance between the western tradition of the Bible and this Postmodern world. The absurdity continues with Estragon and Vladimir again talking about having nothing to talk about and then suddenly being able to stand up.
Estragon wants to leave, but Vladimir reminds him yet again that they are waiting here for Godot. Estragon asks what they will do in the meantime, and Vladimir says they could help Pozzo get up. They help Pozzo stand up, but when they let go, he falls down again. They help him up again and hold him steady between them.
Estragon repeats his desire to leave yet again, but he and Vladimir are still kept here waiting. Pozzo's inability to stand is darkly comic—humorous, but pathetic at the same time.
Pozzo asks who Vladimir and Estragon are, because he is blind and cannot see them. Estragon wonders if he can see into the future, since he is blind. Pozzo asks if they are his friends, and Vladimir says they have proven that they are, by helping him up. Pozzo begs them not to leave him, and Vladimir says they won't. "For the moment," Estragon specifies.
Pozzo seems just as desperate for company as Estragon and Vladimir. While he is Lucky's master, he seems hardly any better off than Lucky. Everyone seems to suffer in the bleak world of Beckett's play.
Pozzo asks what time it is, and Estragon and Vladimir look at the sky, guessing seven or eight o'clock in the evening. Estragon isn't sure whether it's the evening or dawn, but Vladimir is sure it's evening. Pozzo again asks what time it is, and Vladimir assures him it's evening, in spite of what Estragon may think.
Estragon and Vladimir disagree over the time. While Vladimir seems correct, given the strange functioning of time in the play, one can't be entirely sure. The audience is left in a state of temporal disorientation.
Estragon asks how long he and Vladimir will have to hold up Pozzo for. Pozzo says he used to have excellent sight, and that he woke up one day completely blind. He says he's not sure if he's still asleep or awake. Vladimir asks if this happened yesterday, and Pozzo angrily replies that "the blind have no notion of time."
Like Estragon, Pozzo lacks a normal sense of time. He is content to stay in this disoriented state, whereas Vladimir struggles to establish a stable chronology of events. Vladimir is always looking to explain what may not be explainable, suggesting the limits of reason and rationality,
Estragon says he is leaving. Pozzo asks where they are, and Vladimir says he doesn't know. Pozzo asks if they are at the place called the Board, which Vladimir hasn't heard of. Pozzo asks Vladimir to describe their surroundings. Vladimir says, "It's indescribable. It's like nothing. There's nothing. There's a tree." Pozzo says that it is not the Board, then.
Not only do the characters not know when they are, but they also don't know where they are. Vladimir's attempt to describe the place is rather nihilistic: ultimately, there's nothing much to see here.
Pozzo asks where Lucky is, and why he isn't responding to his call. Vladimir says Lucky seems to be sleeping, but might be dead. Pozzo asks Vladimir or Estragon to go check on Lucky and see if he is okay. Estragon doesn't want to go, since Lucky kicked him, but Pozzo asks for Estragon to go, because he stinks.
The more serious elements of the play are counterbalanced by moments of simple humor, like Pozzo wanting Estragon to go check on Lucky because he smells bad. Again, though, such physical disgust is a reminder that the body is physical, and that all life is trapped in this physicality.
Estragon doesn't move. Vladimir asks Estragon what he is waiting for, and Estragon answers that he is waiting for Godot. Pozzo tells Estragon to pull on Lucky's rope to get his attention. If that doesn't work, he suggests kicking him. Estragon asks what would happen if Lucky were to defend himself, but Pozzo says Lucky never defends himself. Estragon approaches Lucky.
Estragon comically misinterprets Vladimir's question and thinks that Vladimir has forgotten that they are waiting for Godot. Pozzo's cruel suggestion of kicking Lucky and assurance that Lucky won't defend himself show how Lucky has been robbed of his dignity.
Estragon checks if Lucky is still breathing (he is) before starting to kick him repeatedly. He hurts his foot in the process and limps away. Lucky begins to move. Estragon tries to take off one of his boots, but gives up and sits down to sleep.
In causing Lucky pain, Estragon ends up hurting himself. This is both comical and an encapsulation of how causing suffering harms both the victim and the perpetrator.
Pozzo asks what has just happened, and Vladimir explains. Vladimir asks him if he and Lucky are the same Pozzo and Lucky from the day before. Pozzo says he doesn't remember meeting anyone yesterday. But, he says, he won't remember meeting Vladimir today, so he might have. Vladimir reminds him of the previous day, and how Pozzo was bringing Lucky to a fair to sell him away.
Vladimir is now starting to doubt his understanding of time and recognition of Pozzo and Lucky.
Pozzo shouts, "Up pig!" and Lucky gets up and gathers his things. Vladimir asks where Pozzo is going, and he simply says, "On." Lucky puts the rope that is tied around his neck in Pozzo's hand, and gives him his whip. Vladimir asks Pozzo what's in the bag Lucky carries. The bag is filled with sand. Vladimir asks what Pozzo does when he falls and no one is around to help. Pozzo says he waits until he can get up, and then he continues walking.
Lucky's bag that he lugs around with him is filled with nothing but sand. As a darkly comic touch, there is no purpose to his suffering in carrying it around. Equally absurd is Pozzo's random and unexplained inability and ability to get up at different times.
Vladimir asks Pozzo to have Lucky sing, think, or recite something. Pozzo says Lucky is mute, and "can't even groan." Pozzo is frustrated with all of Vladimir's questions related to time, which he insists does not matter. He and Lucky leave the stage. Vladimir walks over to Estragon and wakes him.
Estragon asks why Vladimir won't let him sleep. Vladimir says he was lonely. Estragon begins to describe his dream, saying that he dreamt he was happy, but Vladimir angrily tells him not to describe his dream. He wonders whether Pozzo was really blind.
Vladimir is again lonely when Estragon sleeps and leaves him by himself.
Estragon says, "let's go," but then remembers they can't. He asks if Vladimir is sure that Pozzo wasn't actually Godot. Vladimir says he's certain, but then he says, "I don't know what to think any more." Estragon tries to get his boots off and asks Vladimir for help.
Estragon keeps on forgetting that he and Vladimir are bound to stay and wait for Godot. Vladimir now doubts his own knowledge of people's identities—the rationalist begins to doubt his ability to understand the world. Estragon relies on Vladimir's help for even minor things like taking off a boot.
Vladimir wonders if he himself is sleeping at this very moment. He ponders what he will say of this day tomorrow and laments the fact that Estragon will not remember this day and they'll have to go through the same conversations all over again. He says he can't go on, but then stops and asks, "What have I said?"
The boy from yesterday enters. Vladimir asks if the boy recognizes him, but the boy says he doesn't and that he didn't come yesterday. Vladimir asks if the boy has a message from Godot, which the boy does: Godot will not come this evening, but he will come tomorrow. Vladimir asks if the boy ran into Pozzo and Lucky, and the boy says he didn't see anyone on the way over.
The boy repeats his message from yesterday, keeping Vladimir and Estragon waiting. Despite Vladimir's plea for the boy to remember seeing Vladimir, he fails to recognize him.
Vladimir asks the boy what Mr. Godot does. The boy says Godot does nothing. Vladimir asks whether Godot has a beard and what color it is. The boy says that Godot has a white beard. The boy asks if Vladimir would like to send a message back to Godot. Vladimir tells the boy to tell Godot that he saw Vladimir.
Vladimir repeats his message from the day before, wanting someone to acknowledge and remember him as an individual. According to the boy, Godot does nothing, just like Vladimir and Estragon.
Vladimir grabs the boy and violently asks him, "You're sure that you saw me, you won't come and tell me tomorrow that you never saw me!" The boy runs off, as the moon rises and night comes. Estragon says he's leaving, and Vladimir says he'll leave as well. Estragon asks how long he was asleep for, and Vladimir doesn't know.
Estragon wants to go far away, but Vladimir says they can't go far, because they have to come back tomorrow to wait for Godot. Estragon asks if Godot came and whether it's too late for him to come tonight. Estragon asks what would happen if they "dropped" Godot. Vladimir says Godot would punish them. He says everything is dead, except for the tree.
Despite all of the pain caused by waiting for Godot, Vladimir still feels compelled to come back tomorrow and do it again. The events of Beckett's play could repeat indefinitely.
The two go up to the tree and examine it. Estragon suggests they hang themselves, but they don't have any rope. Estragon says they could use his belt, but then there would be nothing to hang Vladimir with. Vladimir asks to look at Estragon's belt. He takes off his belt and his oversized pants fall to the ground. Vladimir wonders whether the belt would be strong enough to hang either of them with.
Estragon repeats his uncomfortably casual suggestion of suicide from yesterday. Yet even the possible dignity of suicide—of making a choice for oneself in the face of the meaninglessness of the world—is mocked when he makes an undignified fool of himself, taking his belt off and his pants fall down.
Vladimir and Estragon pull on either end of the belt to test its strength. It breaks. Estragon asks if they have to come back to this place tomorrow, and Vladimir says they must. Estragon says they should bring some rope with them next time. Then, he says he "can't go on like this," and says that it might be better if he and Vladimir parted. Vladimir says they will hang themselves tomorrow, unless Godot arrives.
There is something humorous in the belt breaking so easily, which jars with the intense sadness of the play's ending. Doomed to keep waiting, Vladimir and Estragon can do nothing—not even kill themselves. They have no control about what will happen or where they can go, or even over whether they will live at all.
Estragon asks if they can leave. Vladimir tells him to pull up his pants. Estragon misunderstands, and asks if Vladimir wants him to pull down his pants. Vladimir repeats himself and Estragon pulls his pants up. Vladimir asks if Estragon is ready to go. He says, "Yes, let's go," but neither of them move.