Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Keely and Du is designed to address the ongoing debate about the issue of abortion. Narrowing the focus, the playwright juxtaposes the positions of those who oppose abortion on religious grounds with the beliefs and needs of a pregnant rape victim. The play explores the extreme actions to which strong religious convictions may drive people, and it also focuses on a woman’s myriad reasons for needing an abortion.

Drawing inspiration from the historic, real-life violence against abortion clinics, their medical staff, and their patients, the play imagines a similarly extreme form of illegal activism. Keely is kept against her will. The meaning of her imprisonment is clear: The fate of her pregnancy is not to be decided by her, but by others who have made themselves the rulers over her body and spirit.

The religious-based opposition to abortion is given voice through the characters of Walter and Du. Walter lectures Keely with arguments familiar from real-life arguments against abortion. He presents her with graphic pamphlets of aborted fetuses that are handed out by some anti-abortion activists. He quotes real passages from the Bible that can be interpreted to prohibit abortion.

Keely’s arguments are exactly opposite to Walter’s. She demands respect for the American law, which prohibits kidnapping and gives a woman the right to an abortion. In the climactic thirteenth scene, Keely lays out her ultimate reasons for...

(The entire section is 401 words.)