From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches


by Tony Kushner

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches Act 3, Scene 2 Summary

  • Another split scene.
  • Louis and Belize are on one side of the stage in a coffee shop. On the other side of the stage, Prior is in the outpatient clinic at the hospital, hanging out with the nurse, Emily. He's on an IV drip.
  • Louis is the first character who gets to talk – and, man, he really talks, launching into a big monologue. First he theorizes why democracy has worked in America. Well, not totally, but at least there's potential for positive growth in the right direction.
  • He says that even though the founding fathers who created the Constitution tried to give all the power to the elite, the people on the bottom have gradually taken more and more power over the years. Louis thinks that no matter how hard the right (conservatives, Republicans) try to keep the little man down, they are gradually losing the battle.
  • Next he criticizes liberals, saying they talk about freedom but don't know what it really is.
  • Louis goes on to talk about how AIDS reveals that there's a limit to tolerance – that underneath it there's hatred.
  • Louis thinks the dividing lines in America are based on political views, not race. He acknowledges that America is a racist country, but not as racist as England, for example. When he walks around in London, he feels like he totally sticks out as being Jewish because everybody there is so incredibly white.
  • He talks about how he met a black guy in a gay bar there, who told him about the racism in England. Louis agreed with the guy and said that he felt like the British were really anti-Semitic.The black guy said that Jews have it better in Britain because they run all the clothing businesses (a comment that could be considered anti-Semitic). Louis says he felt kind of hopeless at that point.
  • Belize cuts in, asking if Louis is trying to say that there's race problem in America.
  • Louis tries to clarify: "ultimately race here is a political question" (3.2.12).
  • He goes on to say that the county has no true spiritual center either: "there are no angels in America, no spiritual past, no racial past, there's only the political" (3.2.12).
  • Louis concludes that power is gradually shifting more and more to the people.
  • Belize get fed up with Louis' monologue and tries to jet. He thinks Louis is being racist by saying that America doesn't have a problem with race.
  • Louis tries to defend himself: "I just think when you are discussing lines of oppression it gets very complicated," he tells Belize.
  • Belize points out that as a black drag queen, he knows all about oppression.
  • Louis doesn't like the idea that Belize is doing drag again; he thinks it's sexist.
  • Belize goes off on him, basically saying that he's acting like a smug, racist communist.
  • Louis says Belize just hates him because he's Jewish.
  • Belize can't believe he would have the nerve to say this after all the "racist" stuff Louis just spouted. Belize accuses Louis of hating black people.
  • Louis says he thinks most black people don't like Jewish people.
  • Belize points out that making any kind of general statement about black people is inherently racist.
  • Louis cites Louis Farrakhan as a black person who's anti-Semitic.
  • Belize cites Ed Koch (who he thinks is racist).
  • "Jesse Jackson," cries Louis.
  • Belize points out that Louis voted for Jesse Jackson and wrote checks to Jackson's Rainbow Coalition.
  • "I'm ambivalent. The checks bounced," says Louis (3.2.82).
  • "All your checks bounce, Louis; you're ambivalent about everything," Belize replies (3.2.83).
  • Louis knows Belize is referring to the way he abandoned Prior.
  • He claims he totally loves Prior and says that "Real love isn't ambivalent" (3.2.88).
  • Belize says that sounds like a line from a bestseller he liked called In Love with the Night Mysterious. The book tells the story of Margaret, the white daughter of a slave owner, who falls in love with Thaddeus, her father's head slave. Yankees come to burn everything down and hang her father. Margaret stands with the flames lighting up her face and tells Thaddeus that "real love isn't ever ambivalent" (3.2.91).
  • Now the other side of stage gets hopping as well.
  • Emily enters and turns off Prior's IV. She notes that he only has six lesions, which she thinks is good.
  • Louis asks Belize how Prior is doing.
  • "There's the weight problem and the shit problem and the morale problem," says Belize (3.2.98).
  • On the other side of the stage, Prior tells Emily all about how he's feeling. His ankles are sore, his tongue is fuzzy, and his glands are like walnuts. He talks about how a friend of his died recently of TB, but he was afraid to go to the funeral because he might catch it.
  • All in all, he's feeling better. Oh yeah, except for the fact that he's going totally crazy.
  • Prior admits to Emily that he's afraid that "something terrifying is on its way, you know, like a missile from outer space" (3.2.104).
  • Emily says he's worried about nothing, but then she suddenly starts speaking in Hebrew.
  • Prior is all like, did you just speak in Hebrew?
  • Emily doesn't know what he's talking about.
  • Prior kind of freaks out.
  • She tells him to chill – he's one of the lucky ones who will survive AIDS for a long time. Emily suggests that he see a therapist, because sometimes loneliness can make you feel crazy.
  • All of a sudden, there's a gigantic shaft of light and a choir sings.
  • A giant book with steel pages bursts from the ground, sitting on top of a lava-red pillar.
  • The book has an Aleph emblazoned on it (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet). The Aleph bursts into flames.
  • The book suddenly slams shut and disappears.
  • Everything goes back to normal.
  • Emily, who didn't see any of this, laughs to herself as she exits, saying "Hebre... " (3.2118).
  • Prior runs away.
  • Back on the other side of the stage, Louis revs up for another monologue. He talks about how he broke his glasses and cut his forehead. Now the cut won't heal, and he feels like it's the Mark of Cain (as in the Biblical brothers, Cain and Abel).
  • Louis says he also feels like Judas.
  • He identifies with these Biblical figures because "in betraying what they love betray what's truest in themselves" (3.2.121).
  • Louis feels terrible about deserting Prior, but he just can't deal with the realities of Prior's disease. He asks Belize to tell Prior that he loves him.
  • Belize says, "I've thought about it for a long time, and I still don't understand what love is" (3.2.122).
  • Belize says that you really pay if you violate the laws of love.
  • Louis says he's dying.
  • Belize points out that Prior is the one who's dying, Louis just wishes he was.
  • Belize tells Louis to cheer up, the clouds are looking heavy outside.
  • Louis notes that they look purple.
  • No, no, no, not purple, says Belize. With a grand gesture, Belize declares that the sky is not purple, but mauve. Belize adds, "Soon, this... ruination will be blanketed white" (3.2.126).
  • He asks Louis if he can smell it.
  • Louis doesn't know what he's talking about.
  • "Softness, compliance, forgiveness, grace," says Belize.
  • Louis can't smell it.
  • Belize tells him he can't help him and exits.
  • Louis puts his head in his hands and accidently touches his scar.
  • He winces in pain.
  • After a moment he looks to make sure no one is watching him and takes a deep whiff.
  • He smells snow.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...