A book within a play: simple placement for deeper meanings. A children's lesson placed within a life’s tragic end. The wonder and doubts of life explained to Vivian on her deathbed by E.M. Ashford have meanings of one is never alone no matter where they go. Be it death, be it life, stories of truth like the Runaway Bunny give an ominous, yet comforting, feeling and knowledge to the questions of what is next.
In class, we discussed the parallels that could be drawn between the mother bunny as the "Godly figure" and the little bunny as Vivian. I believe that Margaret Edson used the tale of the Runaway Bunny not in contrast, but more in compliment with the select Donne poems for a distinct underlying purpose. That is, to wonder and assume that at certain times in our life we may convolute and be lost in our own various perception of God’s ways: as we might be when reading the work of John Donne. However, this convolution could be cleared up when introduced to another piece of work with a, sometimes necessary – simplified meaning. This can be seen towards the end of the play when E.M. Ashford does indeed act as a motherly figure towards Vivian: Maybe because such a figure was never mentioned early on as being a part of her life? This Chemo intense regression to “infancy” seems not only to be for Vivian’s unwinding state and comprehension, but maybe also for us the reader to slow down and comprehend the material ourselves.
Delving deeper into the mother/God motif – we can see connections drawn between W;t and the Runaway Bunny in The bible verse Psalms 139 7-12.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Now, this Psalm could have obviously inspired Margaret Wise Brown’s story of the bunny attempting to flee his Mother’s/God’s presence. From the heavens in the beginning of line 8 to the end of line 9, we can see direct connections between the mother being present in the heavens and in the ocean. As the wind, The mother blowing her son, the sailboat, where she pleases and turning into a fisherman to fish out her son, the trout, from the depths of the ocean and or perhaps metaphorically Hell. This seems to be yet another apparent illustration of God’s presence throughout one life and hard times: As explained in line 10. With all these religious parallels drawn between children’s stories and the Bible, it was just a mater of time before one line would comingle itself with the play W;t. In this Psalm’s last two lines, I had to stop and ask myself why? Why if true, then does Vivian still proclaim, “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.) (70) Is it to literally hide from God or a state of giving up on him? If present, why not ease her anguishing pain? Is it because this in fact is another life lesson that God may not actually be there? Or rather a stronger and deeper message that He is . . . Wanting you, Vivian, to become enlightened and free of ones own pain: “We live as we die, and die as we live” – Edward Counsel.