Angels in America

Angels in America

Angels in America Perestroika: Act 5, Scene 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Belize and Louis sneak into Cohn’s hospital room. Belize tells Louis to keep his voice down—they’re there to steal Cohn’s enormous stash of AZT pills. Louis isn’t sure why Belize is asking Louis for his help. Belize explains that he needs Louis to sing a Kaddish (Jewish funeral prayer) for Cohn’s body. Louis admits that he’s doesn’t know the words to the Kaddish—his Jewish parents were extremely secular.
Although Belize isn’t Jewish, he recognizes the importance of religious ceremony. Religion, whether you believe in God or not, is partly about honoring other human beings in a time of need—and Belize is highly sympathetic to this notion. The way that Belize, seemingly a secular person, crosses over into religious territory is characteristic of the end of the play (compare it with the way that Hannah, the Mormon mother, “crosses over” to take care of Prior Walter).
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon
Progressivism, Conservatism, and Change Theme Icon
The Clash between People and Principles Theme Icon
Belize forces Louis to try to deliver a Kaddish. Louis delivers one, very hesitantly. As he falters, Ethel Rosenberg appears in the room, visible to Louis but not Belize. Ethel delivers the Kaddish, and Louis repeats after her. At the end of the prayer, Louis says, tearfully, ”You son of a bitch.”
In this “miraculous” scene, Ethel Rosenberg lives on in other characters’ minds. There’s simply no rational explanation for this experience—what’s important, however, is that Ethel’s appearance makes a kind of spiritual sense: Ethel was Cohn’s enemy, but they are still bound together as people even in death.
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
After Louis finishes his prayer, Belize crams Louis’s bag with AZT pills and thanks him for his help.
With Cohn’s AZT pills, Belize could save thousands of lives—in this way, Belize’s kindness to Cohn has paid off.
Themes
Homosexuality in the AIDS Era Theme Icon
Prophets and Prophecies Theme Icon