Wit

by

Margaret Edson

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The Popsicle Symbol Icon

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

The Wit quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Popsicle. 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:
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Wit PDF

The Popsicle Symbol Timeline in Wit

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Popsicle appears in Wit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 12
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
...herself anymore, and she “used to feel so sure.” Susie offers to get Vivian a popsicle and Vivian says (“like a child”) “Yes, please.” Susie leaves and Vivian tries to pull... (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 the other part. Susie sits by... (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 addresses the audience, remarking on how “corny” her life has become, with things like popsicles and “sweethearts.” But then she admits that they aren’t talking about abstract things anymore—they’re discussing... (full context)