Angels in America

Angels in America

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Angels in America Perestroika: Act 1, Scene 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On one half of the stage, we’re in Joe’s apartment. There, Hannah stands with Harper. Harper babbles about Antarctica and her depression and her need to take pills. She confesses that she misses Joe’s penis. Hannah scolds Harper for discussing such things in front of her, Joe’s own mother. Hannah tells Harper that they need to go to the Mormon Visitors’ Center—there’ll be work for them there, and Harper will be able to calm down.
Hannah isn’t the nicest woman, but she makes it her duty to take care of Harper, long after Joe has abandoned her. Kushner resists easy equivalencies between goodness and secularism, or between goodness and homosexuality. He disapproves of the homophobic aspects of Mormonism, but also shows that Mormons themselves can be very good people whose natural compassion outstrips their religion’s dogma.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
On the other half of the stage, Louis and Joe lie in bed together in Louis’s apartment. Louis challenges Joe on his politics—how is it possible that Republicans can live in a democratic society? Joe, not fully awake, doesn’t answer, but says that lately he’s been feeling as happy as he’s ever felt in his life. He brushes off Louis’s criticisms of his politics.
At this point in the play, Louis doesn’t know that Joe is a Mormon, though he recognizes that Joe is very conservative. Joe and Louis don’t let politics get in the way of their romantic feelings for each other—an idyllic state that probably won’t last long.
Themes
Progressivism, Conservatism, and Change Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
Louis and Joe fall asleep slowly. Louis tells Joe that he’s been feeling guilty for causing someone he loves a lot of pain. Joe is silent, but when Louis appears to be asleep Joe tells Louis, “I love you.” Louis doesn’t answer. Suddenly, Joe looks up and sees Harper standing next to the bed—she’s walked over from the other side of the stage. Harper tells Joe that she’s only a dream. Harper yells at Joe for abandoning her, and tells him that there’s nothing he can do to make Louis happier.
In this section, Kushner implies that the romance between Joe and Louis isn’t perfectly ”balanced”—Joe likes Louis more than Louis likes Joe. Joe is behaving like the proverbial immature teenager—falling in love with the first person he dates because he has no one else to compare him with. Louis, by contrast, is more experienced, and still has feelings for Prior. Joe’s dream is elegantly symmetrical, as it parallels Harper’s hallucination of Joe in “Antarctica.”
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
Louis wakes up, having heard Joe talking to “Harper.” Louis tells Joe that he dreamed that Joe was a member of a mysterious cult—like the Mormons. Joe tells Louis, “I am a Mormon.” Louis doesn’t reply.
Joe and Louis just don’t know each other that well—Louis is only now finding out that Joe is a Mormon. This makes Joe’s love for Louis seem all the more naïve and desperate.
Themes
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
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