Study Guide

Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika Act 4, Scene 9

By Tony Kushner

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Act 4, Scene 9

  • Later that night Roy is in his hospital bed surrounded by beeping medical equipment.
  • He sings, "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave" over and over again (4.9.2).
  • The ghost of Ethel Rosenberg enters. She asks Roy what he's smiling about.
  • Roy says he's happy because he's going to die before anyone has a chance to disbar him.
  • Ethel happily informs him that he's already been disbarred. He's no longer allowed to practice law.
  • Roy can't believe that the decision went through so quickly.
  • Ethel says she came here to see if she could forgive Roy, but all she seems to be able to do is take pleasure in his downfall.
  • Roy suddenly seems to think Ethel is his mother. He begs her to him a song.
  • Reluctantly, Ethel sings him a Hebrew lullaby.
  • He goes still.
  • Ethel thinks he's dead.
  • Belize walks in and checks Roy.
  • Roy sits up suddenly, laughing that he fooled her. He thinks it's hilarious that he got Ethel to sing.
  • He falls back in bed as if in pain.
  • Very quietly, Roy says, "Next time around: I don't want to be a man. I wanna be an octopus." (4.9.29). He pushes an imaginary button in the air and whispers, "Hold," (4.9.29).
  • And then... Roy dies.

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