The Sermon With The Rabbi, Louis Shares

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In the beginning of the play, after the sermon with the Rabbi, Louis shares: In the passage, Prior implies that Louis introduces himself as “Lou” in order to hide his lisp when he pronounces “the sibilant S”. A lisp is a childlike, imperfect, or faltering way of speaking. Because they are on the subject of talking about Louis’ homosexuality, Louis’ refusal to display his lisp, something which he sees as imperfect, can be interpreted as Louis’ refusal to display his homosexuality in front of his family. Furthermore, the use of a diminutive suffix— “closety”— in Louis’ explanation can suggest that he feels small when he’s hiding who he really is to his family. Additionally, the dash in the first sentence not only show how Louis stutters from trying to apologize to trying to explain why he didn’t introduce Prior, but also materializes how uncertain Louis feels and how he oscillates from being out the closet with Prior and in the closet around his family. This stutter creates a tone of discomfort which suggest that Louis is not completely comfortable with talking about his sexuality, even around Prior—his boyfriend. Louis’ sense of discomfort is heightened in the following scene after Prior tells him he has been infected with AIDS: Louis’ constant questioning and Prior’s short four-word replies reflect a tone of uneasiness. As previously mentioned, Louis prefers to address himself as “Lou” because he wishes to hide his imperfect way of speaking. Prior’s use of the nickname “Lou” after coming out to him about his disease displays his nervousness when talking to Louis because it illustrates Prior’s attempt to make Louis more comfortable with his confession by addressing him with something Louis is comfortable with. The questions in th... ... middle of paper ... ... Prior is extremely dependent on Louis: “I want my fucken boyfriend, where the fuck is he?” (Kushner, 63). However, by the end of the play when Louis wants to come back to him, Prior tells him: “I love you Louis… I really do. But you can’t come back. Not ever. I’m sorry. But you can’t.” Not only has Prior grown as a result of Louis’ departure, but he has also become his own person by being free of closeted Louis and the toxicity he brings with him. This is further seen in the Epilogue when Prior says “I’ve been living with AIDS for five years. That’s six whole months longer than I lived with Louis.” The inclusion of this comparison between how long he has been “living” with AIDS and how long he “lived” with Prior, as well as the fact that the former is longer than the latter, is indicative of the fact that Prior end up being better off without Louis and his toxicity.

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