Summary and Analysis
Act 1: Fun and Games: Scenes x-xi
In George's absence, Martha tells her guests (and thus the audience) how she met and married George. Earlier she had married a young gardener at a finishing school, but her father annulled the marriage immediately. Then she decided to marry someone in the college and "along came George" who in fact returns at this moment "bearing hooch." At first, George goes along with Martha's story, thinking that it concerns their courtship. When he realizes otherwise, he warns her to stop because he now sees that she is leading up to telling about his failures. He reminds her that she has already spilled the beans about their son and now, he says, "if you start in on this other business, I warn you, Martha, it's going to make me angry." Even though he warns her again and again, she continues with the story of his failures.
She tells how it was assumed that George would be groomed to take over her father's place someday. But George wasn't ambitious — in fact he was " . . . a FLOP! A great . . . big . . . fat . . . FLOP!" At this point, George breaks a bottle on the portable bar, but Martha continues even though George is at the breaking point himself. As Martha continues her vicious recounting of George's failures and ineptitudes, he begins to sing "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and is joined by the drunken Honey, who becomes sick and rushes down the hall to vomit. Nick and Martha follow her, leaving the crushed and semi-tragic figure of George standing entirely alone. George is at the depth of his existence now with his life laid bare. We have now finished the game of "Humiliating the Host." For the moment Martha has triumphed and George is defeated.