The Piano Lesson by August Wilson Essay

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The Piano Lesson by August Wilson: The Wisdom of the Ivories Can a treasured object of the past serve as a teacher for the future? Once people share the historical significance of it, an object can symbolize the overcoming of hardships of those lives in which it becomes a part. Therefore, it may indeed “instruct” future generations to glean wisdom from the past. August Wilson’s play The Piano Lesson centers on the trials and triumphs of a family affected by the enslaving of their ancestors and by current racial prejudice. An embellished piano, which bears the carved images of their enslaved ancestors accounts for the conflict that the Charles’ face. The Charles’ siblings inherit the piano from their mother, widowed upon the murder of her …show more content…
Boy Willie states, “Papa Boy Charles brought that piano into the house. Now I’m supposed to build on what they left me. You can’t do nothing with that piano siting up here in the house” (Wilson 51). If he sells the piano, Boy Willie will be able to build a life for himself. Berniece says, “Money can’t buy what that piano cost. You can’t sell your soul for money” (Wilson 50). She believes if they sell the piano, she risks losing part of her identity. With tender sentiment, Berniece relishes the determination of her ancestors to appreciate life and the love they had for one another in the face of slavery. Boy Willie says, “See, you just looking at the sentimental value…You can sit up here and look at that piano for the next hundred years and it’s just gonna be a piano” (Wilson 51). Berniece’s pertinacious refusal to part with the piano emanates from her sentimental devotion to it and the memory of her ancestors. Therefore, Berniece characterizes herself through the piano as it brings the beauty of the past generations to their lives (Wilson 50, 52). Boy Willie defines himself as an African American who declares his equality as a man and seeks to enhance his self-worth by becoming a land owner (Wilson 51, 94). Therefore, he values the piano for its potential to raise his personal quality of life through a financial gain. The significance of the piano resides in the differing viewpoints of each sibling.
August Wilson
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