Several weeks or months have passed, and Vivian describes her treatment to the audience. She says she is “learning to suffer” and has undergone various discomforts, humiliations, and degradations during her treatment. She is then interrupted by her own nausea and runs across the stage to vomit into a plastic washbasin. She vomits again and moans in agony, saying she hasn’t eaten in two days.
Vivian can no longer ignore the harsh reality of the treatment she has signed up for. Her doctors see it as a research opportunity, and she herself initially was happy to commit to the expansion of medical knowledge, but now she is the only one absorbing the human cost of this “experiment”—which includes physical pain as well as indignities suffered at the hands of the detached, unsympathetic professionals. Though she still sees things in academic terms, Vivian now must admit that she has become a student in this situation: she is “learning to suffer.”
Vivian comments on her own devolving vocabulary, and says she feels like she’s going to “barf [her] brains out.” She then starts to muse about what would happen if she actually barfed her brains out—how her colleagues 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).
Vivian acknowledges that her colleagues and students wouldn’t grieve for her because they like her or feel connected to her—instead her death would only affect them on practical or professional terms. She doesn’t seem to regret this right now, but she also still feels fulfilled and secure in her academic accomplishments.
Susie enters and measures the basin, and then asks Vivian if she’s okay “all by [her]self here.” Susie comments on how Vivian hasn’t gotten many visitors, and Vivian corrects her to say that she’s had “none, to be precise.” Susie says she will try to check in on Vivian more, and tells Vivian to call her if she needs anything. Vivian, “uncomfortable with kindness,” thanks her.
Susie grows in importance as a character as the play progresses, and it becomes clear that she is the only one who actually cares about Vivian as a human being and is naturally compassionate towards her. But Vivian is still “uncomfortable with kindness” and seemingly comfortable with the fact that no one at all has visited her.