Literature Study GuidesAngels In AmericaPerestroika Act 5 Scenes 7 8 Summary

Angels in America | Study Guide

Tony Kushner

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Course Hero, "Angels in America Study Guide," March 7, 2017, accessed July 23, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Angels-in-America/.

Angels in America | Perestroika, Act 5, Scenes 7–8 | Summary

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Summary

Scene 7

Harper tells Joe she's leaving; she demands he give her their credit card. Joe gives it to her, asking her to call sometimes. Harper refuses; this departure is final. She leaves.

In the hospital room, Louis says again he wants to get back together with Prior. Prior says he loves Louis, and Louis says the same. But to Louis's surprise, Prior announces he can never take Louis back.

Scene 8

Harper is on a plane flying to San Francisco. Other characters remain on the stage from previous scenes: Louis and Prior in the hospital room; Joe alone in the Brooklyn apartment. Harper speaks of a vision she's had: the souls of those who died of AIDS and other diseases rise up, interconnect, and seal the hole in the ozone layer.

Analysis

Kushner brings the two main couples—Prior and Louis, Joe and Harper—back for their final breakups in Scene 7. Placing their breakups so close to the end of the play gives these splits particular emphasis: from now on, the primary social unit will be some formation other than the couple. Putting the two breakups side by side on the stage also emphasizes their parallels and differences. Harper and Joe split forever, with Harper saying she won't even call Joe. Prior and Louis express love for each other, and although Prior makes it clear they cannot resume their former relationship, a possibility of future friendship is preserved for Prior and Louis.

At the beginning of the play, Harper is fascinated by the ozone layer above Antarctica: "a pale blue halo ... guardian angels, hands linked, make a spherical net ... a shell of safety for life itself." In Scene 8 she returns to her fascination, but now the "guardian angels" are the souls of the dead, linking together to repair the shredded ozone layer and protect the Earth. People die of war and AIDS, but their souls rise up to protect the world like angels. In Harper's vision, human suffering becomes the very stuff by which the damaged Earth can be repaired and protected.

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