Caroline Or Change Play Analysis

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In Caroline, Or Change by Tony Kushner, Kushner tells the story of a black woman named Caroline, who is a domestic worker living in New Orleans. Caroline works for the Gallman's, and in the house, she befriends Noah, a young boy who recently lost his mother to cancer. The play focuses on two aspects of change: pocket change and the literal idea of change. In an attempt to get Noah to stop leaving pocket change in his clothes, Noah’s new stepmother, Rose, allows Caroline to keep any of the change left in his clothes. However, when Noah ends up leaving a 20 dollar bill, an argument between the two erupts causing Caroline to leave the house for several days. In the end, the play ends with a monolog by Caroline, explaining her strength and the …show more content…
The concept of purgatory is the state after death where the soul undergoes purification before they’re able to reach heaven. If in this context the basement is a purgatory then the basement cleanses Caroline so she’ll be able to reach ‘heaven.’ Additionally, throughout the musical there are several religious references when describing the basement. On page 15, the mention of the temperature of the basement is first noted. Caroline says to Noah, “The basement too darn hot for two” (Kusher, 15). As a result of the religious references during the musical, the basement also begins to also take on the form of hell for Caroline. On page 16, the dyer sings, “Found her sinful sell in hell” (Kushner, 16). While, the basement being akin to hell goes against the idea of the basement being a cleansing state for Caroline, the idea of heat does support the idea of cleansing. The words hot, heat, and hell are used throughout the musical to describe the basement. After Caroline and Noah fight about the 20 dollars, Caroline says, “Noah, hell is like this basement, / only hotter than this, hotter than August” (Kushner, 104). The idea of heat and the basement the continues to be reinforced throughout the musical. Furthermore, when examining when the basement is first compared to purgatory the dryer also say the line, “time has come to suffer the heat.” This shows that heat is mandatory in the cleaning process for Caroline. Fire is able to burn away anything in it’s path, leaving a raw state, similar to how Caroline uses the basement to suffocate herself and remain unchanging. In the end, with the abundance of religious symbols in the musical, the basement burns away Caroline’s past and allows her to remain

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