HomeLiterature Study GuidesAngels In AmericaMillennium Approachesact 2 Scenes 57 Summary

Angels in America | Study Guide

Tony Kushner

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Download Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Angels in America Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Mar. 2017. Web. 16 Dec. 2017. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Angels-in-America/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2017, March 7). Angels in America Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 16, 2017, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Angels-in-America/

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Angels in America Study Guide." March 7, 2017. Accessed December 16, 2017. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Angels-in-America/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Angels in America Study Guide," March 7, 2017, accessed December 16, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Angels-in-America/.

Angels in America | Millennium Approaches,Act 2, Scenes 5–7 | Summary

Share
Share

Summary

Scene 5

Belize brings Prior a folk remedy and massages him. They address each other by using teasing, feminine names ("Miss Thing" and "Stella" and "girlfriend"). Belize asks when Prior last saw Louis; it has been days. Prior weeps about Louis and his own illness and then confides to Belize that he has heard a voice. After Belize leaves, Prior hears the voice again. It tells Prior once more to "prepare," and it promises a "marvelous work" is about to begin.

Scene 6

Roy, Joe, and a Justice Department official, Martin, dine in an upscale Manhattan restaurant. When schmoozing with Martin fails to persuade Joe to take the Washington job, Roy tells Martin to take a walk. Roy then reveals he "borrowed" money from a client, and he wants Joe to run interference for him at the Justice Department, protecting him from prosecution. Joe is put off by the unethical arrangement, but he suggests a compromise; can't Martin pull strings for Roy at the Justice Department? Roy says Joe doesn't understand: Martin is "Ed's man" [Edwin Meese's ], and "You're mine," Roy says, "This is politics."

Scene 7

Joe and Louis run into each other near the courthouse steps. Joe asks about Louis's sick "friend;" Louis muses about President Reagan and his wife and children. Joe confides a dreamlike experience; he came to work on a Sunday by mistake and found the Hall of Justice deserted. Joe says he can't bear to go to work today. A sexual tension arises between Joe and Louis, but it fades. Louis confides he has "moved out on ..." but he can't bring himself to complete the sentence and say who he left.

Analysis

Prior jokes that Louis "likes to keep a girl on edge," but underneath the joking is a real and anguished hope—maybe Louis will come back. In referring to himself as a "girl," Prior takes up the femininity excluded from heterosexual masculinity. As a gay man, Prior already embodies a sexuality and an identity rejected by heterosexual men; the nicknames "girl" and "Stella" are loaded with equally rejected feminine traits.

Just as Sarah Ironson at the start of the play represents the history of immigrants, so does Belize, the black former drag queen. The gay liberation movement is said to have started with the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969. During a bar raid at the Stonewall Inn, drag queens and transgender women of color, among others, resisted arrest. As gay liberation advanced, it focused more on white gay men and to a lesser extent white cisgender women, sidelining drag queens, transgender people, and queer people of color. Belize's inclusion in the play acknowledges that history.

Scene 6 reveals Roy has been grooming Joe, not for sexual seduction, but for his own gain: power, money, and impunity. Roy accuses Joe of thinking this is "Sunday school." Rather than a moral education, "this is politics," says Roy. When Prior collapses in the hall, it is in his own blood and feces. Roy also has AIDS, but the blood and feces he mentions in his speech is a metaphor for politics. For Roy, politics is a visceral and bloody competition, symbolized by "bowel-movement and blood-red meat." That is the stuff of life, not death, and rather than feeling alone or vulnerable as Prior does, Roy continues to scheme his way through "the game of being alive."

Joe's lunch—three hot dogs from a street cart washed down with liquid antacid—foreshadows his bleeding ulcer. Louis comments on the Reagan children. The Reagans, as the nation's First Family, represent America and its citizens. The First Family's children are straight, notes Louis, even "Miss Ron Reagan Jr.," suggesting that representing America means being straight, not gay. But Louis's snarky comment—"it's not really a family, the Reagans"—points out the cracks in the model family of model citizens. This foreshadows Prior's speech at the end of Perestroika; "We will become citizens." By then "citizen" will include all the disparate elements of this "Gay Fantasia on National Themes."

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Angels in America? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!

Download Study Guide
Ask a homework question - tutors are online