(Act Three is subtitled "Not-Yet-Conscious, Forward Dawning")


Scene 1

A sleeping Prior is awakened by a man dressed as a 13th-century British squire. After the initial shock, the man tells him that his name is also Prior Walter—he is an ancestor, the fifth to carry the name (the modern Prior corrects him, telling him that he is the thirty-fourth). The man, whom the play designates as Prior I, tells him that he, too, died in a plague even worse than AIDS, the Black Death of the 1200s. Then a second ghost-ancestor appears—Prior II, an elegant Londoner, who died in the plague outbreak of the 1660s. The two ghosts tell Prior they have been sent to prepare the way for the unseen messenger. They chant a mysterious chorus in Hebrew and English, similar to the voice's repeated refrain.

Scene 2

The scene opens with Louis and Belize debating politics in a coffee shop. Across the stage, Prior lies helpless in his hospital bed. Louis delivers a lengthy monologue on democracy, liberalism and race. It is hilariously wordy, ambivalent and contradictory: he grandly proclaims the success of democracy in America, then immediately spews out a host of exceptions and counter-arguments; a moment later, he insists that the United States has no monolithic, dominant culture, until Belize acidly points out that the monolith of straight white men is "not unimpressive." Finally Belize cracks, and calls Louis on his passive- aggressive, borderline-racist liberalism. Hurt, Louis claims that Belize hates him because he is Jewish. Their comical bickering continues, but the subject inevitably turns to Prior.

Across the stage, Prior lists the progress of his symptoms for Emily. In the middle of her reply, Prior begins hearing her words in Hebrew, but when he questions her about it, she does not know what he is talking about. Then, in a blaze of light, a flaming book with a Hebrew aleph on its pages rises from the floor. Prior is terrified but Emily cannot see it. Prior flees. Meanwhile, a suddenly serious Louis begs for Belize's help and asks him to tell Prior he loves him. Belize tries to be sympathetic but tells him he cannot help him. As he leaves, snow begins to fall.

Scene 3

Mr. Lies takes Harper, dressed in a snowsuit, to a snowy wonderland she believes is Antarctica. She wants to stay in her fantasy forever, but Mr. Lies tells her it cannot last. He also points out that she invented her pregnancy, but Harper replies that her entire fantasy is imaginary. She finds an "Eskimo" who she hopes will be her companion.

Scene 4

In the wasteland of the South Bronx, Hannah, newly arrived in New York, asks a homeless woman for directions, but the woman is deranged—she talks nonsense and screams at no one. Hannah grows angry and finally shouts at the woman to pull herself together. To Hannah's surprise, the woman manages to tell her the location of the Mormon Visitor's Center in Manhattan, where she often goes for shelter.