Questions and Answers for The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson

Berniece is one of the primary characters in The Piano Lesson by August Wilson, and she is the family member who understands the significance of the piano she has in her possession. While it is not...

Latest answer posted May 1, 2014 2:52 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

Boy Willie is probably the most dynamic character in the play The Piano Lesson. He begins the play as an “all talk, no action” character who is dogged by the past to a very significant (if not...

Latest answer posted January 29, 2012 4:28 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

In his play, The Piano Lesson, August Wilson uses the piano to represent the Charles family's history as well as the struggle of African Americans to reclaim their identity, language, and culture...

Latest answer posted April 24, 2019 12:54 pm UTC

3 educator answers

The Piano Lesson

There are many reasons to read August Wilson's play The Piano Lesson. Among the first reasons that come to mind is the idea that this is a (relatively) contemporary work of American drama. Much of...

Latest answer posted May 20, 2016 5:54 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The piano which is the featured object in The Piano Lesson by August Wilson is full of family history and represents a lot of family suffering for both the original owners and for Berniece's...

Latest answer posted April 25, 2014 2:13 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

In many respects, I think that this becomes one of the central issues of the play. The desire to sell the piano or keep it represents the notion of discarding the past or being tied to it. Boy...

Latest answer posted January 15, 2012 9:33 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The symbolism of "the piano lesson" in the story is the lesson of history itself. Wilson explores the themes of African-American identity and the struggle for civil rights. In this...

Latest answer posted October 29, 2007 12:04 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

I think that Doaker's work on the railroads represents a couple of elements. The first is that it shows consistency and a sense of constancy in a world of mutability and change. Doaker does not...

Latest answer posted December 12, 2011 7:32 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson by August Wilson centers, unsurprisingly, around a piano. This piano has a complicated history, but it begins as a simple musical instrument given as a gift to Ophelia Sutter by...

Latest answer posted May 1, 2014 3:40 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

In August Wilson’s 1990 play “The Piano Lesson,” the significance of the piano is only hinted at through much of the first act, when Boy Willie and his friend Lymon show up at the door of Boy...

Latest answer posted May 1, 2014 4:01 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The sense of identity felt by Boy Willie and Berniece is focused on their family's accomplishments. This is expressed for Boy Willie in his pursuit of the land in Mississippi where his family was...

Latest answer posted May 20, 2019 7:28 pm UTC

3 educator answers

The Piano Lesson

The carvings on the piano represent the past. There is a very profound implication here. On one hand, Miss Ophelia felt bad that the slaves to whom she had grown attached were now gone because of...

Latest answer posted November 24, 2011 10:42 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The play opens in Act 1 in the kitchen and parlor of Doaker Charles' home, which he shares with his niece Berniece and her daughter Maretha. This is Pittsburgh in the 1930s. The most arresting...

Latest answer posted April 9, 2015 4:48 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson was written by August Wilson, son of a white German-American father and black mother born in 1945. The play premiered in 1987 and opened on Broadway in New York in 1990. The story,...

Latest answer posted October 28, 2015 8:18 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

In The Piano Lesson, Boy Willie has one over-riding goal - to buy Sutter's land. Boy Willie has two ways to get the money for this purchase. He wants to sell the truckload of watermelons and to...

Latest answer posted January 29, 2012 3:54 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

In the final analysis, there are many different ironies that emerge in Wilson's The Piano Lesson. I think that one of the most interesting ironies is how a source of historical pain can end up...

Latest answer posted April 25, 2015 1:29 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The idea of the piano is significant in detailing the family's freedom from oppression. The piano's "lesson" is one of valuing the past and understanding how the narrative of oppression and the...

Latest answer posted May 1, 2014 9:31 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The complex relationship that people have towards the past is evident in the divergent approaches that different characters take towards the piano. For example, Doaker Charles recognizes that the...

Latest answer posted November 26, 2011 10:57 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The attitude towards the piano becomes the central issue of the play. Wilson constructs the characters to represent the thematic understanding of a painful past and its connection to an uncertain...

Latest answer posted November 24, 2011 10:15 pm UTC

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The Piano Lesson

All the siblings in The Piano Lesson are ambivalent toward the piano, which is strongly connected with their enslaved ancestors’ painful experiences. Berniece, however, stresses the importance of...

Latest answer posted March 8, 2020 10:20 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

I think that there could be several different approaches to this particular question. I would say that one distinct ending would be for Berniece to give the piano to Boy Willie. I think that it...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2011 2:14 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

This play takes place in the early Fifties, which was a time of enormous African-American migration from the South to the North. Black people moved to Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and other cities...

Latest answer posted December 23, 2009 9:28 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

It is difficult to link Grace to any specific plot actions definitively as her appearance is so brief. Some consider her entrance and the seduction scene between her and Willie to act as a foil or...

Latest answer posted April 23, 2010 3:50 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

I think that the piano represents the past and the question then becomes how important is past ownership of "the past." In my mind, Wilson seems to be making a complex statement about a complex...

Latest answer posted November 24, 2011 10:28 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

In Wilson's The Piano Lesson, the piano is a key symbol in the play. It represents something different to each character, especially the two central characters. To Berniece, it has blood on it and...

Latest answer posted March 17, 2016 1:18 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

Berniece enhances the discussion in Wilson's play because it raises the issue of gender in being as important as that of race. In the subject matter of the drama, the "scars" caused by slavery,...

Latest answer posted December 12, 2011 8:55 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

I think that the opening of the play with the watermelons is significant. Lymon and Boy Willie have stolen the truck and loaded the melons on it in order to sell it and split the profit. This is...

Latest answer posted April 1, 2012 5:57 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

In August Wilson's play The Piano Lesson, there are a total of 8 characters: Berniece, Boy Willie, Doaker, Lymon, Maretha, Avery Brown, Winning Boy, and Grace. There is also Sutter's ghost, who is...

Latest answer posted November 3, 2017 12:00 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

Through focusing on a material object, August Wilson explores the abstract concepts of heritage and legacy. The siblings Berniece and Boy Willie in particular have highly contrasting views on the...

Latest answer posted February 3, 2020 7:33 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by American playwright August Wilson. The Piano Lesson is the fourth play in Wilson's "Pittsburgh Cycle," also called his "Century Cycle": a series...

Latest answer posted October 10, 2019 4:50 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The Charles family stole the piano from the Sutters, the family which had owned them as slaves prior to Emancipation. The piano had originally been obtained by selling two members of the Charles...

Latest answer posted November 1, 2018 7:17 am UTC

2 educator answers

The Piano Lesson

Boy Willie is 30 years old and has come to Pittsburgh from Mississippi to sell watermelons. His actions soon become clear on why he is there. Boy Willie goes to see his sister and to tell her that...

Latest answer posted November 17, 2014 7:41 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

Given the nature of the content, it needs to be serious. On the other hand, the comedy therein provides necessary relief from intense suspense. Enotes provides a very good commentary about what the...

Latest answer posted February 3, 2010 10:35 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

This is a guess on my part, but a carving of a family story could not be accomplished in most musical instruments because there simply would not be enough space. The other idea that comes to my...

Latest answer posted January 13, 2010 9:41 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

In The Piano Lesson, however, Wilson traces the play's historical complications back three generations, to an incident in the family's slave legacy that has left them to face the present in terms...

Latest answer posted August 15, 2007 10:19 am UTC

2 educator answers

The Piano Lesson

This is an interesting point of discussion. On one hand, the piano represents a particular level of talent and focus required to play it. This is seen in Berniece. While she no longer wishes to...

Latest answer posted November 26, 2011 12:30 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The South is referred to as "down home" often in The Piano Lesson. This is where every character in the play has come from, though the action of the play takes place in Pittsburgh. Like the actual...

Latest answer posted January 29, 2012 3:40 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The most significant undercurrent of this play is slavery’s continuing influence on the family. The story of the piano in The Piano Lesson essentially encapsulates and symbolizes the family’s...

Latest answer posted January 29, 2012 4:21 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

The South is the home of slavery. It is the birthplace of "the original sin," something that is carved on the piano, the narratives of the characters in the drama, as well as what it means to be...

Latest answer posted November 26, 2011 12:23 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

I think that Pittsburgh has some significance in the drama. The first would be for background purposes. The drama is inspired by the Bearden portrait of the same name, and Bearden made Pittsburgh...

Latest answer posted November 26, 2011 12:13 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

Wining Boy is described as being exploitative and selfish even before he comes on stage in this play. This is not necessarily a negative trait, but it is Wining Boy's nature to "play the angles" or...

Latest answer posted January 29, 2012 4:09 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Piano Lesson

I think that the tension of racial ownership relates to how different characters understand their own past and the condition of slavery. This tension is brought out by the piano, itself. The very...

Latest answer posted January 8, 2012 7:10 am UTC

1 educator answer