Angels in America

Angels in America

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Angels in America Perestroika: Act 1, Scene 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
We are in Harper’s imaginary Antarctica. Mr. Lies sits on the ground, playing an oboe—the instrument of “ducks.” Harper enters the scene, dragging a huge pine tree, which she claims she chopped down with her teeth, “like a beaver.” Harper complains that she’s cold and hungry, and Mr. Lies repeats his earlier advice—“snow melts.” Harper tells Mr. Lies about the feeling of heartbreak. Even after the heart “breaks,” she claims, every other part of the body remains intact—even the genitals.
The sexual imagery in this scene (ducks, beavers) is crude but unmistakable, and Kushner admits that he has a childish sense of humor. The notion of “snow melting” is meant to symbolize Harper’s inability to run from her problems forever—although she wants to forget about Joe, she finds that she can’t.
Themes
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Progressivism, Conservatism, and Change Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
As Harper and Mr. Lies talk, Joe Pitt approaches them, claiming that he’s been looking all over for Harper. Harper asks Joe what he’s been up to, and Joe admits that he’s been “having fun,” though his fun has been frightening. Harper asks Joe if she can come with him, but Joe refuses to allow this. He walks away, and Harper yells, “You fell out of love with me.”
There are times where we’re unable to tell whether something is “real” or not. Joe’s appearance in this scene is a good example of this—perhaps Joe and Harper are “sharing a dream,” as Harper and Prior did, or perhaps Joe really is talking with Harper.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
Harper realizes that she’s standing in Prospect Park, Brooklyn—not Antarctica. She took the tree from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens—not a pine forest. Harper sees a homeless man (in some productions, played by the same actor as Mr. Lies), who reminds her “there are no eskimos in Antarctica.” Suddenly, a police car pulls up to Harper, and she puts her hands in the air, surrendering.
Sure enough, Harper can’t keep hallucinating forever. She hasn’t gotten very far from Joe at all—in fact, she’s still in New York City. The fact that the homeless man is played by the same actor as Mr. Lies reinforces Harper’s earlier point about how imagination doesn’t create anything new; it just dresses up reality in a new way.
Themes
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon