Angels in America

Angels in America

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Angels in America Perestroika: Act 2, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The scene opens at a funeral, where Prior and Belize are in attendance. Many of the other attendees are dressed in drag or flamboyant clothes. A priest says that the deceased was a drag queen. There is singing and dancing, and Belize joins in, smiling and cheering.
There are several funeral scenes in this play, and this one contrasts markedly with the funeral that opens Part One. Here, members of the gay community celebrate life even as they mourn death.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon
Outside the church, Belize and Prior walk away. Belize reminisces about the deceased, whom he describes as “divine.” Prior is less optimistic—he calls the spectacle “ludicrous,” and complains that there’s nothing to be happy about these days except not being dead. Prior confesses to Belize that his medical condition is uncertain.
Belize and Prior’s debate could be said to apply to the entire play they’re in. Like Prior, critics have questioned Kushner’s aesthetic choices (filling a play about AIDS with glitzy, fantastical scenes and spectacles). But like Belize, Kushner seems to see these life-affirming set pieces as an appropriate reaction to such overwhelming tragedy.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
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
Prior reminds Belize of his wet dream—i.e., his encounter with the angel. Prior claims that his encounter with the angel was real, and that he’s received a physical book, containing a glorious prophecy. The book has disappeared, Prior admits, but it’s still inside him.
Once again Kushner connects angels to sexuality and orgasm. Prior isn’t sure how to interpret his own dream, so in perfect Biblical form, he goes to a “wise man” (Belize) for advice. Prior seems to believe that he now “is” the word of the angels—echoing the Bible’s description of Jesus Christ as the embodiment of the Word of God.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Fantasy, Escape, and Tragedy Theme Icon