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Theme Of Sexism In The Piano Lesson

Decent Essays
In The Piano Lesson, the central symbol of the play is the 137-year-old piano, an object that incarnates the family history. A gift purchased through the exchange for slaves, it originally exemplifies the interchangeability of person and object under the system of slavery. This traffic in flesh reaffirms a white kinship network at the expense of black ones (Johny, 2005) (Image, 42). The piano bears the marks of generations of both racial oppression and sexist gender ideology.
Boy Willie describes the piano as “Yeah… look here, Lymon. See how it got all those carvings on it. See, that’s what I was talking about. See how it’ carved up real nice and polished and everything? You never find you another piano like that” (9), while he looks only at its price, “My mama used to
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Lymon, instead of embracing his past, chooses to sever all ties to his roots in Mississippi. On the surface he reinforces several prevailing stereotypes of black men who migrated from the South: forever in trouble with the law, averse to hard work, fond of flashy clothes, devoid of personal ambition, driven by sexual lust, and essentially limited in vision to the here and now. Lymon buys a truck in Mississippi so that he can sleep undetected by the law; he is on the run from a Mississippi white man named Stovall. After he and Boy Willie are ambushed while hauling wood and subsequently jailed on false charges, Stovall pays Lymon’s $100 bail in exchange for a promise of $100 worth of labor from him. But Lymon shocks authorities by refusing: “I`d rather take my thirty days” (PL37). After being forced to accept Stovall’s arrangements, Lymon is released but soon after disappears, unwilling to honor the judge’s orders. His mission up North with Boy Willie, then, is merely an opportunity to get out of Mississippi where his family roots lie and where he is a wanted man. “They treat you better up here” (38), he claims
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