Wit

by

Margaret Edson

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Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N. Character Analysis

The twenty-eight-year-old primary nurse in the Dr. Kelekian’s oncology unit who administers much of Vivian’s care. Unlike her peers, she is not academically minded, though she is an excellent nurse. She prioritizes Vivian’s human dignity and comfort over any kind of research gains, and Vivian begins to appreciate this more and more as she gets sicker. By the end of the play, Susie is Vivian’s greatest ally (and seemingly her only friend), and it is Susie that she seeks out at the very end of her life. Susie is on the front lines of Vivian’s care, unlike Jason and Dr. Kelekian, who mostly just call the shots from behind the scenes. When Jason calls a code team and gives Vivian CPR in the play’s climactic scene, Susie throws him aside and tries to stop the team from resuscitating Vivian—since Vivian had told Susie herself that she didn’t want to be resuscitated.

Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N. Quotes in Wit

The Wit quotes below are all either spoken by Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N. or refer to Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N. . 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 12 Quotes

Now is not the time for verbal swordplay, for unlikely flights of imagination and wildly shifting perspectives, for metaphysical conceit, for wit.

And nothing would be worse than a detailed scholarly analysis. Erudition. Interpretation. Complication.

(Slowly) Now is a time for simplicity. Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness.

(Searchingly) I thought being extremely smart would take care of it. But I see that I have been found out. Ooohh.

I’m scared. Oh, God. I want…I want…No. I want to hide. I just want to curl up in a little ball. (She dives under the covers.)

Related Characters: Vivian Bearing, Ph.D. (speaker), Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N.
Related Symbols: The Popsicle
Page Number: 69-70
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

Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N. Character Timeline in Wit

The timeline below shows where the character Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N. appears in Wit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 3
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
...of Donne’s poetic works, one that requires “scrupulously detailed examination…exacting and seemingly pointless scrutiny.” Meanwhile Susie Monahan, the head oncology nurse, enters and wheels Vivian to her exam room. Vivian does... (full context)
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... (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
...stirrups and places a paper sheet over her. He then says he has to get Susie, because there’s a rule that he’s “got to have a girl here.” Jason leaves and... (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... (full context)
Scene 4
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
...and students would mostly just “scramble madly for [her] position.” Vivian rings the bell for Susie, who has to measure her “output” (how much she has vomited). (full context)
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie enters and measures the basin, and then asks Vivian if she’s okay “all by [her]self... (full context)
Scene 7
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
At the hospital, Susie supports a clearly suffering Vivian. Vivian says she was at home reading and then suddenly... (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... (full context)
Scene 8
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
Susie comes in, interrupting Vivian to say that the doctors want her to have another ultrasound.... (full context)
Scene 12
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
...in bed at the hospital late at night and tells the audience that she wanted Susie to come visit her so she “had to create a little emergency.” Vivian pinches her... (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
Vivian tells Susie that she can’t figure things out this time—she’s in a “quandary”—and she feels scared and... (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
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
Susie returns with a two-stick orange popsicle, and Vivian breaks it in half and offers Susie... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie then says they need to talk about something—Vivian’s cancer isn’t going away. The treatment has... (full context)
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie says Vivian now has to think about her “code status”—what to do if her heart... (full context)
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie seems to disapprove of the desire to keep someone alive at all costs for the... (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
Susie leaves and Vivian addresses the audience, remarking on how “corny” her life has become, with... (full context)
Scene 13
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Susie enters, and says she’s paged Kelekian. Kelekian enters, and Susie says they need to give... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
Kelekian orders a morphine drip, going against Susie’s suggestion of Patient-Controlled medication. He tells Vivian they’re going to help her through this, and... (full context)
Scene 14
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
Vivian lies down as Susie injects morphine into her IV. Vivian says, “I trust this will have a soporific effect.”... (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 great lecturer.... (full context)
Poetry and the Limitations of Language Theme Icon
Kindness and Mortality Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
...on how Vivian has undergone a treatment so aggressive he didn’t think it was possible. Susie says she thought a poetry professor would be more “dreamy,” and Jason says Vivian’s Donne... (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 is no end or... (full context)
Scene 16
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... (full context)
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
The code team sweeps in, knocks Susie out of the way, and starts trying to resuscitate Vivian. Susie tries to stop them... (full context)
Rationality and Intellect vs. Emotion and Human Connection Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Professional Detachment Theme Icon
Wit, Death, and Meaning Theme Icon
The code team head asks Susie “Who the hell are you?” and demands to see Vivian’s chart, and they realize that... (full context)