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Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika
by Tony Kushner
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika Act 3, Scene 4 Summary
Joe and Louis sit on the sand at Jones Beach. Joe is freezing, but Louis feels great. Louis talks about all the intrepid gay men who braved the beach in all kinds of weather just to have a place get it on. "Hardy pioneers. Like your ancestors," Louis says to Joe (3.4.4). "Not exactly" Joe tells him (3.4.5). Louis still can't get over the fact that Joe is a Mormon. He asks Joe about the "fruity underwear" Joe wears (3.4.12). Joe tells him it's a "temple garment," that it's a "second skin" (3.4.13-14). He tells Louis that he'll take it off if Louis wants him to. Louis doesn't think it's a very good idea for him to take off his skin. How can Joe throw away his past beliefs, Louis wonders. Joe says he keeps thinking God is going to punish him, but that he's really happy. Louis says he feels really guilty about deserting Prior. Joe kisses him deeply. "You believe the world is perfectible and so you find it always unsatisfying," Joe tells Louis (3.4.20). Joe advises his lover that he should accept that the world is imperfect. They start talking politics. The more Republican-sounding Joe gets, the more turned on Louis becomes. Joe tells Louis that ultimately the two of them want the same things. Louis doesn't think that's true. Joe thinks Louis did the right thing by walking out on Prior. According to Joe, it was what Louis needed to do, and sometimes the best thing a person can do is to be a little selfish. Louis feels totally ashamed about it. Joe tells Louis he loves him. Louis says haven't known each other long enough for that and adds that he wants to see Prior again. Hurt, Joe asks if Louis is breaking up with him. Louis isn't sure, but he definitely needs to see Prior. "Anything. Whatever you want. I can give up anything. My skin," cries Joe (3.4.57). He starts flinging off his clothes, including his temple garment underwear. Embarrassed, Louis freaks out and starts putting Joe's clothes back on. Joe urges Louis to see that sometimes it's okay to look out for yourself, to take what you want in life. Louis stands apart from Joe. Joe yells, "Think about what you need. Be brave. [...] AND THEN YOU'LL COME BACK TO ME!" (3.4.66-68).
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