Throughout the play, Martha and George act childishly in provoking one another and teasing their guests. They perform common romantically infantile gestures, like calling each other “baby,” and talking to each other in childish voices. When she drinks too much, Honey sucks her thumb on the bathroom floor. At some moments, too, George and Martha treat Nick and Honey as though they were children. All of this behavior might be understood in the context of both of the couple’s experiences with infertility and “imaginary children”: George and Martha invent a son that doesn’t really exist; and Honey had “a hysterical pregnancy.” In the end of the play, Honey yells that she wants a child. Children, and the necessary absence of them, is a subject of distress for the two married couples.
Children and Childishness ThemeTracker
Children and Childishness Quotes in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
It was a hysterical pregnancy. She blew up, and then she went down.
In the hospital, when he was conscious and out of danger, and when they told him that his father was dead, he began to laugh, I have been told, and his laughter grew and he would not stop, and it was not until after they jammed a needle in his arm, not until after that, until his consciousness slipped away from him, that his laughter subsided.
Just before we got married, I developed…appendicitis…or everybody thought it was appendicitis…
Our son ran away from home all the time because Martha here used to corner him.
I’M RUNNING THE SHOW! (To MARTHA) Sweetheart, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you…for us, of course. Some rather sad news.
I FORGET! Sometimes…sometimes when it’s night, when it’s late, and…and everybody else is…talking…I forget and I…want to mention him…but I…HOLD ON…I hold on…but I’ve wanted to…so often…oh, George, you’ve pushed it…there was no need….there was not need for this. I mentioned him…all right…but you didn’t have to push it over the EDGE. You didn’t have to…kill him.