Before Vivian’s symptoms worsened, she wrote off her nurse Susie as being unintelligent and overly sentimental, preferring Jason and Dr. Kelekian’s cut-and-dry, fiercely intellectual approach to oncology. As her cancer symptoms become harder for her to deal with, however, Vivian begins reaching out to Susie for comfort, realizing that being treated with kindness and dignity matters more to her as she approaches death. One night, when her pain is unbearable, Vivian cries into Susie’s arms, and Susie offers to go and fetch her a popsicle, returning with an old-fashioned orange popsicle with two sticks. Vivian offers to split it with Susie, which is the first moment in the play when Vivian extends real kindness to someone else.
The popsicle therefore represents the fact that Vivian has come to understand the world differently than before. As she reflects on her own previous unkindness and lack of empathy, she learns from her appreciation of Susie’s kindness that she, too, should be kind to others and meet them where they are. Furthermore, Vivian recognizes that crying and reminiscing with Susie over a popsicle is “maudlin” and “corny,” but accepts that this is the reality of her life. She no longer cares much about intellectual originality as she faces the reality of her impending death.
The Popsicle Quotes in Wit
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.)