terrible end

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Vivian: Sharp, and sudden. Then it would go away. Or I would be tired. Exhausted. I was working on a major product, the article on John Donne for The Oxford Encyclopedia of English Literature. It was a great honor. But I had a very strict deadline. (Edson 28)

Vivian says at the beginning of the play that she is going to die, which made me think it is going to be a theme to this play. Vivian describes herself as a “professor of seventeenth- century poetry, specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne” (5). I felt bad that when Susie questioned her, “You’re not having a lot of visitors, are you?”(34). She replied “None, to be precise´ (34).

I felt so bad for Vivian when Jason is questioning her. He isn’t fully paying attention. He asks her if her parents are still living. She tells him, “My father, suddenly, when I was twenty, of a heart attack. My mother, slowly, when I was forty-one and forty-two, of cancer. Breast Cancer.” (23) He then question “cancer?” and she has to repeat “Brest Cancer.”  I just felt annoyed for her.

Vivian tells us that she “survived eight treatments of Hexamethophosphacil and Vinplatin at the full dos, ladies and gentlemen. I have broken the record. I have become something of a celebrity.” (53) I took this as she has hope. She could survive this too, but hope is lost when Vivian says, “My cancer is not getting cured, is it” (66) and when she says, “they never expected it to be, did they” (67). It broke my heart that she had to come to the realization that death is inevitable.  She was in excruciating pain all the time. She tries to downplay it, but it can’t be ignored.

This play touched me because I lost both of my grandfathers to cancer. I know they had hope and high spirits in the beginning, but then lost all hope. I know they were annoyed with the treatments, mostly the effects of the treatments. The play made me feel better because we did not leave them. They had visitors until the end. Vivian teaching lessons made me think of how my Nonno spent more time teaching me different Italian words and Italian songs once he found out he was sick.  


Angela Palumbo said:

Awww...I'm sorry to hear about your grandfathers Angelica. My grandfather has cancer as well but they told him he'll die of old age or something else before he'd die of the cancer. My neighbor also died of cancer so I definately can sympathize. I was upset that she died in the end but I was really happy that she at least gave us fair warning.
Your entry made me think about Edson’s reasons behind disclosing the ending to us before we got there. She did not want us to really get caught up on the outcome of the story. She wanted us to focus on the treatment she received and the journey she went through. Her flashbacks show us how much she has changed. She started off as a strong and independent woman. She was strong willed, difficult and independent. When she found out she had cancer, she was quite unshaken, but as the play progresses, the reader can see her getting weaker and weaker except for the occasional flashbacks. Edson wants us see what it is like to have cancer first hand. Edson also excercised her ability to make us upset even when we knew what was coming. My boyfriend, Joe, actually likes to read the end of books before he reads the rest of it. He likes to see how the main characters get to the end. I think I’ll just stick to doing it the normal way though.

Erica Gearhart said:

Thanks so much for sharing your personal stories with us Angelica. I love how you included all of your feelings here. It is refreashing that, although the play is still so sad, it has an uplifting message regarding the possibilities of life and definitely a positive message of life after death.

Kaitlin Monier said:

I lost my grandfather to cancer too. It is sad to read the end of the story when she is in so much pain and think about how many people have to go through it.

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Kaitlin Monier on terrible end: I lost my grandfather to cance
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