The Piano Lesson Essay Research Paper A

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The Piano Lesson Essay, Research Paper A Piano’s Cost In The Piano Lesson, August Wilson portrays the life of a 30’s family in a dilemma over selling an ancestral piano for money to buy land those ancestors worked as slaves. The piano teaches many lessons, among the most important is that you must hold on to your heritage over everything else, even economic betterment. The Piano Lesson speaks of some basic lessons of African-American culture. Wilson felt a duty toward his African’s slave past. In this way his play teaches duty toward respecting your heritage, which in the tradition of great literature, is just as relevant today as in 1930. The older generation in the play, Doaker, represents a time farther back in American history and attests to the past. He tells

Lymen, a friend of the family, about the piano saying ” it was the story of our whole family” (p.45). Doakers job in the play is to carry the background story of the bloodstained piano to the viewer. He is also a reminder to respect the past and a realization that our past is not that far in back of us. Another way this play teaches duty toward heritage is it’s assertion that you cannot escape racism by pretending it’s non-existence, and that the ghosts of slavery’s past will follow you unless you hold them up. This was demonstrated in the conclusion of the play when Bernice faces her denial of the piano and “realizes what she must do” and exercises Sutters ghost by “beginning to play”(106). When Bernice plays the piano she is showing a respect for her

family’s history and moves past her denial and the ghost’s power over the family. Another basic lesson of the play is that family is important and to sick together in hard times. This family is scattered around the United States. Cousins, and uncles have not seen each other for years. In fact when Boy Willie wants to see Bernice who “its been three years since I seen her”(p.3), her response is that he disturbed her sleep saying,”its five o’clock in the morning an you come in here with all this noise” (p4). The family is not close, with issues of violence, death and the past separating them. In the end of the play, when Boy Willie and Bernice are fully intent on killing each other over the piano, Wilson again uses Doaker to keep the peace. Testifying that “one of

them ought to respect the other one’s wishes”(p98) and staying “around here and keep you all from killing one another”(p90). Doaker is a mediating force in the play and is representative of a need in the African-American culture to sit down and discuss issues before violence erupts. Wilson uses Doaker to say Black culture needs more family orientated togetherness and a better resolution to problems. Wilson also incorporates some essential social lessons into the play, saying that the pattern of violence in African -American males must be stopped, and that black women should occupy a better role in black culture. The role of women denying custom and refusing to accept males’ violence is exemplified in Bernice. She refuses to get married even though Avery , a preacher, is

a suitable mate and courting her. She is steady in her view of her self worth and tells Avery “you trying to tell me a woman can’t be nothing without a man everyone telling me I can’t be a woman unless I got a man”(p67). Bernice revokes societies expectations of woman and refuses to play the game of a lonely woman finding men in bars, such as Grace dose, and instead focuses her energy on her daughter and providing a good life her. Bernice protects her daughter as much as she can and hopes she’ll “be a schoolteacher or something”(p70). The violence of the piano’s past and the futility of male violence are exemplified in this passage where Bernice says; “You always talking about your daddy but you never stopped to look at what his foolishness cost your mamma.