And what it ever lead to? She accepts that this is the best that she can do, but is training her daughter to become a teacher. . When the ghost finally menaces him, Boy Willie challenges it without fear or guilt which proves his innocence in Sutter’s murder. His stubbornness incites Berniece to threaten to shoot him, and postpones their reconciliation until it’s almost too late. Wining Boy, tired of only being valued for his ability to provide entertainment with a piano, decides to settle back down south where he can be loved for himself. . Look at it. Avery endures his job as an elevator operator, one of the best jobs a black man can get, while he tries to establish himself as the head of a church. The Piano Lesson Character Analysis | LitCharts. She sits down at the piano and, for the first time in a year, she plays. The objective characters try to change their destinies of being downtrodden black people in America. She runs directly to the piano and uses it to summon up the spirits of her mother, father, grandmother, and great-grandmother. (Wilson, p. 10) . Boy Willie rushes up to Pittsburgh to sell the piano disregarding Berniece’s attachment to it; dismisses her claim that she saw Sutter’s ghost; criticizes her reasons for keeping the piano as sentimental; challenges her to go ahead and shoot him when she threatens him. When Berniece suggests they’re living at the bottom of life, Boy Willie tells her of his need for respect and equality. Detailed analysis of Characters in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. . Plot Summary. MATISSE AND MEMORY. Then her husband died in a shoot-out with the sheriff during a wood-stealing foray with Boy Willie and Lymon. . Boy Willie travels from Mississippi to Pittsburgh to sell the family piano so he can buy farmland. It is believed to show the jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, who grew up in Pittsburgh, sitting for a piano lesson. .] Wining Boy, vivacious and talented, tried to obtain success as a recording artist, having failed that he’s reduced to being just another black blues player without an identity of his own. Boy Willie does not have the ability to sway his sister’s stand on the piano, however, Doaker’s talent as an oral historian allows him to explain why Berniece won’t part with the piano despite Boy Willie’s need to sell it. Her refusal puts her at odds with Doaker, Lymon, and Avery because they think a young woman should be married. AVERY: Thirty-eight years old, Avery is a preacher who is trying to build up his congregation. Her Christian faith alone is not enough; Berniece plays the piano and in a ritual chant calling on her ancestors, defeats the evil spirit. Sutter ordered great-grandfather Charles to carve the pictures of his wife and son on the piano so that Mrs. Sutter could have them near her. Boy Willie’s relentless campaign to advance himself in the world regardless of what it costs his sister, creates a major dilemma for Berniece. The diverse reaction between the siblings exhibits how dissimilar male and female reacted toward the history of their family and on a … August Wilson Writing Styles in The Piano Lesson August Wilson This Study Guide consists of approximately 60 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Piano Lesson. [. Berniece, Despite being called a "soundtrack", this is a partial score re-recording, as Nyman himself also performs the piano on the album (whereas the film version is performed by lead actress Holly Hunter). Literary Analysis - The Piano lesson In her/his review of The Piano Lesson by August Wilson, Alicia Lowry contends that Bernice's emotional attachment to the piano is causing her family to stay stuck in the past. He only considers it as a means to buy his farm and secure his future. Doaker Charles, their uncle, acts as mediator between the siblings. He tries to convince his sister to let him sell the family piano. He returns to Mississippi without enough money to buy Sutter’s land which would have enabled him to quit being a sharecropper and own a farm of his own. The Piano Lesson, drama in two acts by August Wilson, produced in 1987 and published in 1990.The play, which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1990, is part of Wilson’s cycle about African American life in the 20th century.. They never be walking around in this house. . . Avery confesses that he’s getting tired of Berniece’s excuses for not marrying him. Characters. Doaker is content with his career as a railroad cook. The objective characters’ suspicions slow down the story. Look at this piano. Boy Willie’s father stole the piano and was murdered. After he ignores her orders and tries to remove the piano from the house, she threatens to shoot him. The Piano Lesson is a 1987 play by American playwright August Wilson.It is the fourth play in Wilson's The Pittsburgh Cycle.Wilson began writing this play by playing with the various answers regarding the possibility of "acquir[ing] a sense of self-worth by denying one's past". He is right about how owning land will change his life in a racist society. When she see I got a chance to get Sutter’s land she’ll come around. . As the story progresses Berniece and Boy Willie respond to each other without thinking: Berniece’s immediate reaction to Boy Willie’s pre-dawn appearance is to order him to leave; accuse him of stealing the truck he arrived in; suspect him of killing John Sutter; blame him for her husband’s death. To get even with somebody? Our study guide has summaries, insightful analyses, and everything else you need to understand The Piano Lesson. He has an infectious grin and a boyishness that is apt for his name. His mother kept the piano, and when she died it was inherited by Boy Willie and Berniece equally. A piano? The dramas take place in a different decade, from the early 1900s until the 1990s. It stands for a family accepting and owning their past and leveraging their combined strength to beat the odds. (Wilson, p. 67). Although Maretha is taking lessons on the piano, he suggests that she take up the guitar saying, “You don’t need to read no paper to play the guitar.” Later, he tells a customer that his watermelons are sweet because he puts sugar in the ground with the seeds, then he increases the price of the melons. WINING BOY: You look up one day and you hate the whiskey, and you hate the women, and you hate the piano. Lymon’s motivated to move up North, find himself a job, and a wife. is this truer than in The Piano Lesson by August Wilson. The lack evidence accelerates the conflict between Boy Willie and Berniece. me and Sutter both liable to be back. BERNIECE: You trying to tell me a woman can’t be nothing without a man? When’s the last time you looked at it? Berniece dedicates herself to the endeavor of convincing Boy Willie that he’s not going to sell the piano. The characters’ use of prediction accelerates the story: Boy Willie’s relentless pursuit of his greater destiny drives Berniece to accuse him of killing her husband and threaten him with a gun. Put them two parts with the part I done saved. Analysis: The Piano Lesson by August Wilson 1745 Words | 7 Pages. .] The objective characters direct their efforts toward achieving fairness in their lives. Berniece refuses to accept Boy Willie’s evidence of what happened the night her husband was killed, and physically attacks him. Boy Willie thinks that selling the piano and buying farmland will ease his life as a black man in Mississippi. I got a lot of woman left in me. BERNIECE: I ain’t said nothing about closing up. She has spent the last three years working as a housemaid and raising her daughter, shunning all social activities. . The Piano Lesson is actually about the lessons left to the estranged siblings by their ancestors. I ain’t studying Boy Willie or Lymon—or the rope. She realizes that she must call on the spirits of her mother, father, and grandparents. Evidence is given more weight thematically in the subjective story. Berniece exhausts all of her arguments against Boy Willie selling the piano. The title The Piano Lesson is taken from the name of a 1983 collage, Piano Lesson, by the African American artist Romare Bearden. If Boy Willie doesn’t become aware that the piano is the embodiment of the Charles’ family pride and heritage, and value it for what it is, he’ll end up figuratively doing what the slave owner Sutter did—sell off family members and forever separate them from their loved ones. And I’ll see you again next year. The piano was previously owned by the Sutter family, who held Boy Willie and Berniece’s family enslaved. Lymon, afraid of being put back in a work farm for no good reason, comes up North hoping to get a fresh start in life. . © Copyright 1994-2020 Write Brothers, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Berniece learns about the power of the piano when she uses it to save Boy Willie from the ghost. . (Wilson, p. 27) Unless I go out here and kill me somebody and take what they got. (Wilson, p. 9) His persistence causes her great anxiety, while her refusals frustrate him. Doaker, who has worked for the railroad for twenty-seven years, envisions working for it until he retires. 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