The Piano Lesson

Topics: Family, Mississippi State Penitentiary, Piano Pages: 2 (877 words) Published: May 1, 2012
The Piano Lesson
By: August Wilson

The Piano Lesson takes place in 1930’s Pittsburgh. It opens up with a quote from Skip James, “Gin my cotton Sell my seed Buy my baby Everything she need." This can be described at the central theme of the play, what does a person do with their inheritance, their legacy? Does one keep and cherish it, or sell it to make a minor profit? The play opens at dawn with Boy Willie knocking at the door and calls for his Uncle Doaker. Doaker lets him in, and Willie enters with his partner, Lymon. The two have come from Mississippi in a truck to sell watermelons. Willie then calls for his sister Berniece. He has not seen her in three years because he had spent time on the Parchman Prison Farm. Boy Willie asks his uncle for a drink in celebration. When the two ask why there is a need for celebration, Boy Willie tells them that the ghosts of the yellow dog have drowned Sutter in his well. The Sutter family owned the Charles during slavery and Boy Willie intends to buy the land that his ancestors worked day after day. Bernice does not believe them and asks how they got the truck they drove to her house. Lymon explains that he bought it to hide from the law. Bernice insists they leave her house immediately and that she doesn’t want them waking up her daughter Maretha. Boy Willie then calls upstairs for her and Bernice storms up the steps in a very angry manner. Lymon then asks about the piano. Willie intends to sell it and, with the profits from the watermelons as well, use the money to buy Sutter's land. Doaker, however, is sure Berniece will not part with the piano. Indeed, Avery Brown, a preacher who has been courting Berniece since her husband Crawley died, has already tried to get her to sell it. Willie schemes to get in touch with the prospective buyer himself. Suddenly Berniece yells out, "Go on get away." Berniece claims she has seen Sutter's ghost, calling Boy Willie's name. She is convinced that her brother pushed Sutter into...
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