The monologues to the audience are rich with reflection about her life's work. The Holy Sonnets she's meticulously studied her entire career deal with the most dramatic themes of life, death and god, themes which she is now not only intellectually but physically faced with. It has a disturbing effect when, Vivian is caught up in her revelries, has to quit thinking to be tested and probed. Her objective treatment is really noticeable when a group of fellows are all poking at her abdomen and discussing the condition as if she were a picture in a textbook.
In the earlier parts of the story, Vivian thinks a lot about John Donne. As her cancer progresses and the chemical therapy weakens her body her consideration of literature similarly degrades. She begins strong and confident with a solid sense of humor and recites the holy sonnets to herself. As it progresses and she becomes lonely, she considers how she treated her students in comparison with how the doctors are treating her. Eventually she is allowing a nurse to call her sweetheart and recalling her favorite children's book.
The book makes a frightfully mechanical image of health care professionals and gives an insightful perspective into the horrors of cancer. Both of these are fueled by the contrast in language between Vivian and the doctors. A poet and the quantifiers.