Literature Study GuidesAngels In AmericaPerestroika Act 1 Scenes 5 6 Summary

Angels in America | Study Guide

Tony Kushner

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Angels in America | Perestroika, Act 1, Scenes 5–6 | Summary

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Summary

Scene 5

Prior wakes from his dream about the Angel to find he has ejaculated in the night. He calls Belize, at work in the hospital, to talk about it. Belize is distracted by Henry, who is bringing Roy, his patient, to be admitted. Henry insists Roy has liver cancer, though he has brought him to the AIDS ward and tells Belize to keep the truth to himself. Belize returns to the phone to tell Prior, "New York's number one closeted queer" has been admitted to the hospital.

Scene 6

Roy is a querulous and troublesome patient, even making racist comments, but he convinces Belize to talk to him. Despite his intense dislike of Roy, Belize advises him on his treatment: refuse radiation and make sure not to get a placebo in the double-blind AZT study. Roy asks why he should trust a nurse's advice rather than his doctor's; Belize replies that he's queer and the doctor isn't. When Belize leaves, Roy calls Martin to arrange for a "private stash" of AZT.

Analysis

By having Prior wake from a dream, Kushner makes the angelic visitation more ambiguous, so the audience cannot be sure whether it is real. Prior's orgasm also links the visitation with sexuality.

Roy's shadow looms over Scene 5, in the person of his doctor. Through Henry, Roy pulls strings to keep his homosexuality secret even when he is hospitalized for complication of AIDS. But Roy's secret is an open one, common knowledge for other queers in New York. The mention of Roy as New York's number one closeted queer highlights the importance of rumor in gay culture. Shut out from official life, queer people developed their own networks of underground knowledge through gossip. Thus Belize and Prior instantly recognize Roy and his situation.

The "number one closeted queer" character in Perestroika, Roy combines many of the characteristics attributed to Jews in anti-Semitic stereotypes. When he calls a Washington power broker to get a private medicine stash in Scene 6, he acts as an outsider who has insinuated himself into the highest levels of society, strictly for personal gain. He is greedy, manipulative, and secretive about his "own private stash." Flat on his back in the hospital, Roy still bullies, wheedles, and connives to benefit himself. Roy's homosexuality also reflects anti-Semitic stereotypes that portray Jews as over-sexed and perverse, or outside the mainstream.

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