Sunday, June 11, 2017

Reading Period 29: June 9-22: Samuel Beckett

Due Dates:

Quiz: Monday, June 19
Assignments: Friday, June 23


Waiting for Godot (Read online here: Act I and Act II)

Fizzle 1 and the biographical notes on Beckett in your textbook (p 898-902)

Creative Assignments:

Take a look at these still shots from various stagings of Beckett's play Happy Days. Based only on the title and these photos, write a 250 word synopsis of the play as you imagine it. Who are the characters? What is the theme? What is the action? The resolution?


The dialogue in Waiting for Godot is often repetitive and sometimes seems completely random. Using your own ideas for how Vladimir and Estragon might entertain themselves with wordplay, imagination, and invented conflicts, write a new section of the play that could be slotted into the novel at the beginning of Act II, between their embrace and Vladimir's line "Waiting for Godot." Write at least 30 lines of back-and-forth between the two characters in which you neither move the plot along nor create any change in their relationship. 


The American artist Jasper Johns collaborated with Beckett on an edition of Fizzles that included five of the eight Fizzles, printed both in French and English, with a print run of 250. Johns used a printmaking technique called intaglio to create his art, but you can create your own version of these designs with a marker. You must fill the entire page, you must use color, and you must explain how the repetition of shapes in the artwork connects to the Fizzles story with an artist's statement of at least 100 words. You don't have to create a copy of Jasper Johns' work -- you could make any collection of shapes in this style, for example a maze or a spiral or a labyrinth. 

Writing Assignments:

Consider this quote from the story "Fizzle 1." 

In any case little by little his history takes shape, with if not yet exactly its good days and bad, at least studded with occasions passing rightly or wrongly for outstanding, such as the straightest narrow, the loudest fall, the most lingering collapse, the steepest descent, the greatest number of successive turns the same way, the greatest fatigue, the longest rest, the longest -- aside from the sound of the body on its way -- silence. 

Rather than writing a novel in which a character is born, has achievements and failures, loves, hates, and then eventually dies, Beckett shows a character in the midst of stumbling through a dark passageway without beginning or end. No plot points, no dialogue, no setting. Using quotes from the story to illustrate your ideas, write a 250 word essay in which you explain Beckett's story as a metaphor for human life, and tell why he would write this portrayal instead of a traditional novel. What is Beckett telling us about life in the modern age? If you like, you can also bring in comparisons to Waiting for Godot


Think about the role of time and memory in Waiting for Godot. Find a couple of specific examples that demonstrate the failure of the characters' memories and the meaninglessness of the passage of time. What does it mean that the characters can't remember what they did yesterday? What does it mean that they don't recognize each other when they meet again? Write a 250 word essay in which you explain Beckett's use of memory as a symbol. If we can't remember what happens, is all of time just a meaningless wait for death, and the subdivisions of time into days or nights irrelevant? Using your quotes from the text, explain what Beckett means by the forgetfulness of his characters and the emptiness of time in the play.  


This quiz is over Waiting for Godot

1. If you were to stage this play, what is the bare minimum of set items and props you would have to use? Make a list.
2. What instruction did Godot give the two men who were to wait for him?
3. Who are Gogo and Didi?
4. Explain this bit of dialogue: 

No use struggling.
One is what one is.
No use wriggling.

The essential doesn't change.

5. What is the relationship between Pozzo and Lucky?
6. Why does Pozzo say that Lucky won't put down his bags?
7. What message does the boy bring from Godot?
8. Choose a line from Act 2 that demonstrates how Estragon has given up on life having any meaning. 
9. When Pozzo reappears in Act 2, what has happened to him? 
10. What does this line mean? 

Pozzo: They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

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