He’s mine as much as he is yours. I’ll talk about him if I want to.”
Act 1 (p.19)
Martha is talking about their son. This is one of the first references to a continuing motif in the play. George instructs her not to talk about the son to the guests; she says she will ignore his wishes.
“All right . . . what do you want me to say? Do you want me to say it’s funny, so you can contradict me and say it’s sad? or do you want me to say it’s sad so you can turn around and say no, it’s funny. You can play that damn little game any way you want to, you know!”
Act 1 (p.33)
Nick reacts negatively to George’s clever word play. 3. “Martha and I are merely . . . exercising . . . that’s all . . . we merely walking what’s left of our wits. Don’t pay any attention to it.”
Act 1 (pp. 33-34)
George tries to convince Nick that his apparent bitter fight with Martha is nothing more than a game they both like to play.
MARTHA: George is preoccupied with the History Department because . . .
GEORGE: . . . because he is not the History Department, but is only in the History Department.
Act 1 (p. 50)
George and Martha verbally spar about George’s stalled career. 5. “That’s the way to power—plow ’em all!”
George gives advice to Nick about how to build up his power at the university: seduce all the faculty wives.
Act 2 (p. 114)
“Well, Georgie-boy had lots of big ambitions
In spite of something funny in his past . . .
. . .
Which Georgie-boy here turned into a novel. . . .
His first attempt and also his last. . . .”
Act 2 (p. 133)
Martha taunts George, threatening to tell a story about a novel George supposedly wrote.
“It’s perfectly all right for you. . . . I mean, you can make your own rules . . . you can go around like a hopped-up Arab, slashing away at everything in sight, scarring up half the world if you want to. But somebody else try it . . . no sir!”
Act 2 (p. 152)
George protests at what he claims are the unfair tactics adopted by Martha in their ongoing struggle.
“Have you ever listened to your sentences, George? Have you ever listened to the way you talk? You’re so frigging . . . convoluted . . . that’s what you are. You talk like you were writing one of your stupid papers.”
Act 2 (p. 156)
Martha hurls another insult at poor George.
“You’re all flops. I am the Earth Mother, and you’re all flops.”
Act 3 (p. 189)
Martha talks disparagingly about George and Nick.
“All right. Our son. Our son was born in a September night, a night not unlike tonight, though tomorrow, and twenty . . . one years ago.”
Act 3 (p. 217)
Martha begins to tell the story of their son, which is full of precise details like this one, all of which are imaginary.