April 21, 2004
African American Culture
The Piano Lesson
In the Piano Lesson, August Wilson traces the family heirloom back three generations, to an incident in the family’s slave legacy that has left them to face the present on the terms of a history that, later is not just communal (done by all members of the family) and familial. The action of the play is driven by conflict over how best to engage history, which would celebrate the event of the past, or as a foundation for the present, which would seek to fulfill its promise. The conflict it the piano. I think August Wilson’s play “ The Piano Lesson” tell us that although there is nothing wrong with perusing the American Dream, it should not be at the expense of one’s heritage or culture. It also showed difficulties in releasing the past and moving forward in one’s life. It is centered on the conflict between brother ( Boy Willie) and sister ( Bernice) over differences in values and beliefs. The main characters are: Boy Willie, Bernice, Doaker( Bernice and Doaker’s uncle, mediator), Lymon( friend of the family, running from the law) , Winning Boy, Avery( the Pastor, wants to marry Bernice), Marteha( Bernice’s daughter), Winning Boy ( alcoholic, Doaker’s brother), and Grace ( Boy Willie and Lymon’s friend). Boy Willie, the great-grandson of the slave whose art work is on the piano. Boy Willie has come north to Pittsburgh to claim his half of the piano, which is currently in the possession of his sister, Bernice. He is a bully, and feels that the money form selling the piano will offer him his best chance to escape the economic and social oppression that has burdened the men of his family since slavery. The result or theme is that Wilson has redefined the frustration of carrying the burden of the past, which is at the center of play, into a question of how best to utilize the past?
This question is brought onto focus when Doaker ( Boy Willie and Bernice’s uncle), tell Boy...
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