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. August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, tells a story of a family haunted by the pain of their past and their struggle to find peace to move forward. Best I can do is make a fifty-acre crop for Mr. Stovall. Avery accepts a “good” job as an elevator operator in a downtown skyscraper to have a chance of founding his own church. . (Wilson, p. 67). BOY WILLIE:  I’m gonna talk to her. Berniece focuses on thought: She’s constantly thinking about the suffering the piano caused her mother; how she isn’t going to end up like her mother, putting all of her love into the piano in place of a man; how Maretha isn’t going to be burdened by the piano’s tragic history; why she isn’t getting married again. The title The Piano Lesson is taken from the name of a 1983 collage, Piano Lesson, by the African American artist Romare Bearden. They never be walking around in this house. if you say to me . He wants to buy land in Mississippi where his family was once enslaved. BERNIECE:  I ain’t said nothing about closing up. CASE STUDY: THE PIANO (JANE CAMPION, 1993) Jill Nelmes Jane Campion is one of the few women directors who could justifiably be called an auteur director. The objective characters exist in an environment that’s tainted by the piano which represents their tragic past, and serves as a reminder of the lowly station they hold as black people in America. The objective characters’ suspicions slow down the story. He believes that it’s valuable only to trade for land: The siblings are arguing over a piano that represents their family heritage. Many is the time I looked at my daddy and seen him staring off at his hands. Berniece tries to understand why Boy Willie and Lymon are visiting her in Pittsburgh, if Lymon’s truck is actually stolen, exactly how John Sutter came to fall down his well, and why his ghost calls out her brother’s name. (Wilson, p. 70). She tries to uncover Boy Willie’s motive behind his unexpected visit. (Wilson, p. 66). Her senses show her how to use the power within the piano to destroy the ghost. I got a little older I know what he was thinking. [. Crawley’s dead and in the ground and you still walking around here eating. But the title also reflects the main conflict in the play, which centers around a piano a brother and sister have inherited from their mother. With the recent death of the last Sutter heir, Boy Willie was offered a chance to buy the last acres of the Sutter plantation. Three years ago Berniece lost her own husband when he was shot while collecting wood with Boy Willie. I used to learn piano via colors, c beeing red, d beeing yellow, and so forth and want to expand on that by having smart light bulbs light up in the colors corresponding to the notes being played. He has two weeks to produce the cash for it, and his savings aren’t enough. The dramas take place in a different decade, from the early 1900s until the 1990s. 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". This is demonstrated when she’s faced with losing her brother to Sutter’s evil spirit. Interdiction slows the subjective story:  Boy Willie’s blind determination to sell the piano for money to buy land that will alter his future, prevents him from understanding that the piano is the embodiment of his family’s heritage and pride. Berniece refuses to accept Boy Willie’s evidence of what happened the night her husband was killed, and physically attacks him. Berniece keeps the piano in the living room of her home in Pittsburgh, but refuses to play it. You can stand right up next to the white man and talk about the price of cotton. Boy Willie envisions selling his watermelons, adding the money from the sale of the piano with his savings, and buying one hundred acres of Sutter land. He believes she’s making up the ghost sighting to get rid of him. . Avery gets a loan to buy property for his church; asks Berniece to marry him again and is rejected again; promises Berniece he’ll bless the house to rid it of Sutter’s ghost as a demonstration of his faith. Get ready to write your essay on The Piano Lesson. She resists Avery’s proposal and Lymon’s advances because she’s sure she’ll lose herself within marriage. Boy Willie Charles arrives at his sister’s home in Pittsburgh determined to sell the family piano which they have inherited. Wining Boy confesses that his life as a roaming piano player was unfulfilling. BERNIECE:  Boy Willie. BOY WILLIE:  Hell, the world a better place cause of me. 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 believes it’s an instrument to be used one way or the other. He traded Boy Willie’s great-grandmother and his grandfather, who was nine at the time, leaving their great-grandfather behind. Matisse, Piano Lesson. . When Sutter’s ghost appears to her and calls for Boy Willie, she immediately assumes that he has murdered Sutter.”  (Pereira, p. 87)  When Boy Willie arrives uninvited she’s suspicious of his motives for the visit, and orders him to leave. He has an infectious grin and a boyishness that is apt for his name. Boy Willie’s drive to change his station in life causes problems between him and Berniece. BERNIECE:  That’s a nasty thing to say. That’s all there is to it. (Wilson, p. 92), Boy Willie becomes combative with Doaker when his uncle stops him from moving the piano out of the house. She sings for the spirits of her family to help her. Lymon wants to end the cycle of being put in a forced labor farm, and leaves Mississippi for good. But Berniece’s need for love and companionship from her husband drives her to continue her attack in spite of Doaker’s efforts to pull her off her brother. As the story advances the characters judge their progress by the way things are going. Henri Matisse, The Piano Lesson, 1916 (MoMA) Key points: With its austere geometries and structured sense of balance, The Piano Lesson is sometimes seen as Matisse’s answer to Cubism. While The Piano Lesson is set in the 1930’s and Fences is set in the 1950’s, both plays take place in Pittsburgh during an era heavily defined by racism. (Wilson, p.50). Hire me some men to work it for me. The piano was previously owned by the Sutter family, who held Boy Willie and Berniece’s family enslaved. He is honest and ambitious, finding himself opportunities in the city that were unavailable to him in rural areas of the South. DOAKER:  Come on, Berniece, leave him alone with that. I’d have to go on and say, well, Berniece using that piano. For a piano? An offer to trade back the piano for them was refused. .] But I ain’t gonna be no fool about no sentimental value. The Piano Lesson BERNIECE:  I ain’t playing with Boy Willie. The possibility of losing the piano drives her to threaten to shoot her brother. Doaker, in explaining why Berniece won’t sell the piano, recollects how his father was traded for it, and how his brother was burned alive after stealing it. She has refused to play the piano, even though she teaches her daughter to play on it. She holds a MA degree in Severe Special Needs from Simmons College. And you or nobody else is gonna stop me. Expressionism . Berniece cannot reconcile her past with her present. Boy Willie recalls that Crawley got himself killed when he pulled a gun on the sheriff who interrupted their wood-gathering. Berniece dedicates herself to the endeavor of convincing Boy Willie that he’s not going to sell the piano. Berniece learns about the power of the piano when she uses it to save Boy Willie from the ghost. Then her husband died in a shoot-out with the sheriff during a wood-stealing foray with Boy Willie and Lymon. She sets conditions upon having Boy Willie and Lymon in her house. The piano was passed on to Berniece and Boy Willie. Had Miss Eula come in and teach me. You, Papa Boy Charles, Wining Boy, Doaker, Crawley. Boy Willie’s faulty interpretation of why Berniece’s not using the piano causes more problems between them, and leads to him being attacked by Sutter’s ghost. . The piano was previously owned by the Sutter family, who held Boy Willie and Berniece’s family enslaved. He tries to convince his sister to let him sell the family piano. Doaker is content with his career as a railroad cook. BERNIECE:  I ain’t blaming nobody for nothing. The piano is a powerful reminder of all this. Lay my money down on the table. (Wilson, p. 86-87). 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). It all begins when Boy Willie and Lymon arrive in Pittsburgh from Mississippi with a truckload of watermelons. Avery’s wariness of Berniece’s reasons for rejecting his proposals prevents him from realizing that she’s afraid, and causes him to antagonize her by his constant nagging. The Piano is the original soundtrack, on the Virgin Records label, of the 1993 Academy Award-winning film The Piano.The original score was composed by Michael Nyman and is his twentieth album release. BERNIECE:  All I know is Crawley would be alive if you hadn’t come up there and got him. The Piano Lesson is a play by August Wilson that was first performed in 1987. . His mother kept the piano, and when she died it was inherited by Boy Willie and Berniece equally. Henri Matisse Bathers with a Turtle 1907-08 Saint Louis Art Museum. Three years ago in Mississippi, Berniece’s husband was killed while on a wood gathering expedition with Boy Willie. BERNIECE:  You ain’t taking that piano out of my house. Get my deed and walk on out. She sits down at the piano and, for the first time in a year, she plays. Boy Charles’ widow grieved for seventeen years while young Berniece watched. BERNIECE:  When my daddy died seem like all her life went into that piano. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. The Piano Lesson, drama in two acts by August Wilson, produced in 1987 and published in 1990. .] When Doaker and Berniece moved north, Boy Willie remained a sharecropper in Mississippi like his father. It also causes Sutter’s ghost to appear to Berniece which increases Berniece’s animosity toward her brother. Characters. BOY WILLIE CHARLES is thirty years old. (Wilson, 10-11), Boy Willie reveals his true nature as a sharecropper when he explains the hopelessness he imagines his father felt in the same position. It is believed to show the jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, who grew up in Pittsburgh, sitting for a piano lesson. . Berniece exhausts all of her arguments against Boy Willie selling the piano. Analysis Of The Piano Lesson By August Wilson 983 Words | 4 Pages. She reminds him that their father traded his life for the piano and how their widowed mother suffered: But when Sutter’s ghost attacks Boy Willie, Berniece saves him by playing the piano to conjure up their ancestors’ spirits to exorcise the ghost. Just like you write on a tree, “Boy Willie was here.”  (Wilson, p. 94). However, when Boy Willie is attacked by Sutter’s evil ghost, she uses the piano to release those spirits to save her brother. .] The only thing that make that piano worth something is them carvings Papa Willie Boy put on there. When Boy Willie asks for the name of the man who wanted to buy her piano, Berniece doubts are confirmed. . Everybody telling me I can’t be a woman unless I got a man. There are 88 keys. And what it ever lead to? . He was hunted down and burned alive in a train boxcar. (Wilson, p. 51). She fights for the right to maintain her identity outside of marriage when Avery pressures her to marry him. Berniece refuses to sell the piano, because it represents the family’s past. Avery wants Berniece to let go of the past by marrying him and playing the piano at church services. A thematic issue that affects Berniece and Boy Willie is “suspicion.”  “She greets her brother’s arrival with suspicion, accuses him and his friend, Lymon, of stealing the truck in which they drove north, and ungraciously tells them to be on their way quickly. The composition opposes the sensual, suggested by the sculpture in the left foreground, to discipline and order, implied by the geometric image of a woman in the upper right. Cause that land give back to you. Boy Willie’s focus on selling the piano to correct the disparity between him and the white man, despite Berniece’s objections, creates a major crisis for her. Berniece was trained to play the piano, and conditioned to worship the piano by her mother. . you’re all alike. The Piano Lesson tells the story of family that struggles in the side and what do with a family heirloom that takes the form of an ornately carved upright piano. . (Wilson, p. 41). Boy Willie remembers his sister’s reserved attitude after she refuses to wake up Maretha so he can say hello his niece. In the time of slavery Robert Sutter owned the Charles family. Berniece’s suspicions concerning Lymon’s truck being stolen distracts her from learning the true purpose of her brother’s surprise visit. (Wilson, p. 85). Analysis. It is the fourth play in Wilson's The Pittsburgh Cycle. This highly abstract painting is important because of its relation to the Cubist grid developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, because of its biographical aspects, and especially due to its thoughtful iconography (symbolic content). You just looking at the sentimental value. I got a lot of woman left in me. “The Piano Lesson focuses on a struggle between brother, Boy Willie, and sister, Berniece, over whether to sell an heirloom piano. He’s attacked by an evil ghost attached to the piano. The Piano Lesson received the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Piano Lesson Summary - http://tinyurl.com/m569c4g You can Visit this Great Website to Learn The Piano Lesson Summary . The conflict between interdiction and prediction can be seen when Boy Willie insists that there is no difference between him and the white man. Berniece and Boy Willie’s grandfather carved … . If you teach that girl [Maretha] that she living at the bottom of life, she’s gonna grow up and hate you. . ] It stands for a family accepting and owning their past and leveraging their combined strength to beat the odds. Monologue Compendium for The Piano Lesson: Download PDF: Curriculum Guide. Boy Willie fights to sell the piano so he can become a landowner and quit being just another poor black sharecropper; Avery works as an elevator operator to finance his dream of preaching in his own church; Lymon follows Boy Willie up North to escape the unfair laws that threaten to send him back to a Mississippi work farm; Berniece sends her daughter to a settlement school so that she can break the chain of serving as a maid like her mother and ancestors by becoming a teacher. She refuses. The piano in the play is a symbol of the past and the future of the Charles family. if you and Maretha don’t keep playing on that piano. Driven by her love for her brother, Berniece uses the piano to save him from the ghost. We soon learn Boy Willie's big plan. I got to mark my passing on the road. Specialist for the Spencer/East Brookfield School District, as a Graduate Research Assistant and Advanced Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Teacher at the New England Center for Children, and as the ABA Coordinator at Webster Middle School. Because of Berniece’s tendency to be suspicious of Boy Willie, it’s impossible for him to convince her to sell the piano on his behalf. Wining Boy foresees that even if Boy Willie owns land in Mississippi, he’ll never have the power to sway the law to his side of an issue against a white man. [. And you call yourself a preacher. (Wilson, p. 54). At the end … Berniece’s ability to play the piano and her capacity to summon her ancestor’s spirits when Boy Willie is attacked by the ghost solves the problems between them. . The characters struggle with their day to day lives. In Lawrence’s works, emotion tends to win over thought, as feelings and sentiments are more powerful than rational thinking. She’s busy raising her child without a father; dodging Avery’s efforts to get her to marry him; running away from Lymon’s subtle seduction. By selling the piano, he avenges his father, Boy Charles, who spent his life property-less. He refuses to “live at the bottom of life” where Berniece believes they all are. . The Piano Lesson Synopsis . Our study guide has summaries, insightful analyses, and everything else you need to understand The Piano Lesson. Read a Plot Overview of the entire play or a scene by scene Summary and Analysis. See a complete list of the characters in Boy Willie assumes the role of kindly uncle to Maretha, advising her to take up the guitar in place of the piano. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano to buy a piece of the property where his family served as slaves. The objective characters try to change their destinies of being downtrodden black people in America. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. Boy Willie directs his efforts toward what he feels will create fairness in his life. He don’t know but I’m through with it. As the story progresses Boy Willie assumes different roles to get want he wants:  He plays the kindly uncle to Maretha, telling her that the guitar is easier to learn than the piano, because he wants to sell the piano. you gonna play around with me one too many times. Berniece uses the piano to exorcise the ghost and save her brother. AVERY:  Where’s it at? When he fails to find evidence of Sutter’s ghost, Boy Willie suspects Berniece is lying about the sighting to get him to leave, and decides not to leave without selling the piano. (Wilson, p. 108). © Copyright 1994-2020 Write Brothers, Inc. All Rights Reserved. She refuses to sell the piano, and tries to make him understand why. The two bust into the house of Boy Willie's uncle, Doaker, at five in the morning. Berniece’s constant dwelling upon her circumstances undermines her desire to improve her life. She accepts that this is the best that she can do, but is training her daughter to become a teacher. And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings. (Wilson, p. 27) Discussion of themes and motifs in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. eNotes critical analyses help you gain a deeper understanding of The Piano Lesson so you can excel on your essay or test. He wanted to give a piano to his wife, but didn’t have any money. But the theme is extended past the literal representation in the ghosts, to Boy Willie's claim that he has overcome death by transcending the fear of dying. The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for The Piano Lesson. I ain’t studying Boy Willie or Lymon—or the rope. Find the quotes you need to support your essay, or refresh your memory of the play by reading these key quotes. He pretends to be a simple black farmer when he teases his white customer about planting sugar with the watermelon seeds. Berniece uses female problem solving techniques. (Pereira, p. 144). Papa Boy Charles brought that piano into the house. Continue your study of The Piano Lesson with these useful links. BOY WILLIE:  That’s why I come up here. 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. Berniece works as a domestic, one of the few occupations open to black women. A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings. “Family is everything” is a well-established archaic saying. [. BOY WILLIE:  [. Her Christian faith alone is not enough; Berniece plays the piano and in a ritual chant calling on her ancestors, defeats the evil spirit. Lymon foresees his future up North with a steady job, a comfortable home, and a wife suited to him. Produits de conserves; Graines & Farines; Entretiens & Soins; Viandes & Poissons; Boissons & Liquides; Articles Scolaires. However, she’s so emotionally dependent upon being the wronged widow, she can’t recognize her second chance at happiness when he’s standing right in front of her. He is brash and impulsive, talkative and somewhat crude in speech and manner. You can’t do nothing with that piano sitting up here in the house. The Piano Lesson Summary. She remembers her widowed mother’s loneliness: The title The Piano Lesson is taken from the name of a 1983 collage, Piano Lesson, by the African American artist Romare Bearden. . And I’m coming back. The Piano Lesson is a 1987 play by American playwright August Wilson. In the middle of The Piano Lesson's chaotic final scene, Berniece has an epiphany. Say when I played it she could hear my daddy talking to her. AVERY:  You too young a woman to close up, Berniece. His persistence causes her great anxiety, while her refusals frustrate him. Berniece prepares herself a bath so she can relax after a hard day’s work. Berniece, freed from the past, can look forward to a fulfilling future as Avery’s wife and partner in his church. He went off to load some wood with you and ain’t never come back. When the ghost finally menaces him, Boy Willie challenges it without fear or guilt which proves his innocence in Sutter’s murder. She tells Avery:  She can’t deny the urge to call upon her family to save her brother, something she’s compelled to do despite their differences. (Pereira, p. 144). 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". 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