Wit

by

Margaret Edson

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A twenty-eight-year-old medical fellow in Dr. Kelekian’s oncology unit who is charged with directing much of Vivian’s care. Coincidentally, he was once a student of Vivian’s while he was an undergraduate; he challenged himself to ace the hardest classes on campus and Vivian’s was among them. He also has an unrelenting work ethic, and he once confides in Vivian that he is eager to get the fellowship (“the part with humans”) over with so that he can pursue his own medical research in a lab. He, like Vivian, prefers individual study over practically everything, and Vivian sees her young self in him—both in the excellent work he produces and in the sacrifices he has made to do so. In the climactic scene of the play, Vivian’s heart stops and Jason calls a code team to resuscitate her (against Vivian’s wishes) because “she’s research.” After a frantic scene in which Jason is forced to admit he made a mistake, it’s implied that he has a realization about how much he has prioritized research and his career over individual human life and kindness.

Jason Posner, M.D. Quotes in Wit

The Wit quotes below are all either spoken by Jason Posner, M.D. or refer to Jason Posner, M.D.. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of Wit published in 1999.
Scene 9 Quotes

In everything I have done, I have been steadfast, resolute—some would say in the extreme. Now, as you can see, I am distinguishing myself in illness.

I have survived eight treatments of Hexamethophosphacil and Vinplatin at the full dose, ladies and gentlemen. I have broken the record. I have become something of a celebrity. Kelekian and Jason are simply delighted. I think they foresee celebrity status for themselves upon the appearance of the journal article they will no doubt write about me.

But I flatter myself. The article will not be about me, it will be about my ovaries. It will be about my periotoneal cavity, which, despite their best intentions, is now crawling with cancer.

What we have come to think of as me is, in fact, just the specimen jar, just the dust jacket, just the white piece of paper that bears the little black marks.

Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 10 Quotes

VIVIAN: (Getting out of bed, without her IV) So. The young doctor, like the senior scholar, prefers research to humanity. At the same time the senior scholar, in her pathetic state as a simpering victim, wishes the young doctor would take more interest in personal contact.

Now I suppose we shall see, through a series of flashbacks, how the senior scholar ruthlessly denied her simpering students the touch of human kindness she now seeks.

Related Characters: Vivian Bearing, Ph.D. (speaker), Jason Posner, M.D., Students
Page Number: 58-59
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 16 Quotes

SUSIE: (Pushing them away from the bed) Patient is no code. Get away from her!

(SUSIE lifts the blanket. VIVIAN steps out of the bed.

CODE TEAM HEAD: (Reading) Do Not Resuscitate. Kelekian. Shit.

She walks away from the scene, toward a little light.

(The CODE TEAM stops working.)

She is now attentive and eager, moving slowly toward the light.

JASON: (Whispering) Oh, God.

She takes off her cap and lets it drop.

CODE TEAM HEAD: Order was put in yesterday.

She slips off her bracelet.

CODE TEAM: —It’s a doctor fuck-up.

—What is he, a resident?

—Got us up here on a DNR.

—Called a code on a no-code.

She loosens the ties and the top gown slides to the floor. She lets the second gown fall.

The instant she is naked, and beautiful, reaching for the light—

JASON: Oh, God.

Lights out.)

(The bedside scene fades.)

Page Number: 84-85
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Wit LitChart as a printable PDF.
Wit PDF

Jason Posner, M.D. Character Timeline in Wit

The timeline below shows where the character Jason Posner, M.D. appears in Wit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 3
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie has now helped Vivian sit on the exam table, and Jason Posner, a young medical fellow under Dr. Kelekian, enters. He introduces himself, calling Vivian “Professor... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Jason, who seems nervous, starts to ask Vivian some questions about her medical history. Vivian notes... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Jason then asks Vivian about how her “present complaint” started, and Vivian describes a gradually growing... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
Jason, growing more nervous and flustered, prepares Vivian for her physical exam. He puts her legs... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie seems upset that Jason left Vivian alone in the stirrups, but Jason interrupts her and begins the pelvic exam.... (full context)
Scene 5
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Vivian then introduces the scene—a Friday morning, “Grand Rounds”—and says “Action.” Dr. Kelekian, Jason, and four other clinical fellows enter. Jason asks Vivian how she’s feeling, and she responds... (full context)
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
As Jason finishes his description, Vivian remarks to herself, “excellent command of details.” Dr. Kelekian then gives... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
The questioning over, the fellows leave, but Kelekian stops Jason and reminds him, “Clinical.” Jason then thanks Vivian, and then he and Kelekian leave her... (full context)
Scene 7
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
...Vivian says she took a taxi. Susie brings Vivian some juice and goes to get Jason, who is on call that night. Jason enters and, without looking at Vivian, asks, “How... (full context)
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie gives Jason the stats on Vivian’s vitals, and suggests that Kelekian should lower the dose for the... (full context)
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
After a while Kelekian and Jason enter, both of them with surgical masks. Kelekian talks to Vivian, and says she’s “doing... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
Jason comes in to Vivian’s room, complaining to himself about how much prep he has to... (full context)
Scene 10
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
...about being relieved to get back to her room (but with two “goddamns” thrown in). Jason enters and asks how she’s feeling—Vivian says, “Fine.” Jason discusses Vivian’s side effects, and makes... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Jason turns to go, but Vivian stops him, “trying to ask something important.” She hesitates, and... (full context)
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Vivian asks if Jason has any theories about curing cancer, and he says he’s mostly waiting to get a... (full context)
Scene 15
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Jason and Susie discuss Vivian as they enter, and Jason comments on how Vivian was a... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
Jason comments on how Vivian has undergone a treatment so aggressive he didn’t think it was... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
Jason inserts the catheter. Susie asks him, “what happens in the end?” Jason explains that there... (full context)
Scene 16
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Jason enters, asking Vivian “How are you feeling today?” without looking at her. He checks her... (full context)
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie enters and yells at Jason for calling a code, reminding him that Vivian is “Do Not Resuscitate.” Jason protests, saying,... (full context)
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
...in the hall announces that the code is cancelled, but the team continues. Susie and Jason now both run to each person and yell for them to stop, but they still... (full context)
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
...that she was no code. They discuss how this was a “doctor fuck-up” and is Jason’s fault, as Jason can only whisper “Oh, God” to himself. While all this is happening,... (full context)