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August Wilson, the author of The Piano lesson, was born on April 27, 1945 in the family of Fredrick Kittle August and his wife Daisy in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The father was an immigrant from Germany and the mother was an African-American from North Carolina who later moved to Pittsburg. When Wilson joined high school, he experienced racial discrimination that reached the peak when his teacher accused him of plagiarism. Wilson abandoned school and did his private studies at Carnegie Library at his home town in Pittsburg.
His lifestyle dictated his carrier and enthusiasm to venture in the art of writing. He began with poetry in 1945, the year his father died. He was fascinated by civil rights advocacy to join theatre. Thereafter, he became a co-founder of the Black Horizons Theatre in Pittsburgh. August Wilson is eulogized for being an interpreter and dramatist of African American life and events, which are revealed in the play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom that addresses racism in America. Jitney, one of his remarkable pieces, led him to the limelight. He wrote many other works of literature that revolve around love, comedies, triumphs, lives and tragedies of immigrants.
August Wilson’s series of plays hoist him to glory and won him many celebrity awards as a dramatist. He won the Tony Award in 1985, and New York Drama Critics and Pulitzer Prize in 1985 and 1990 respectively. He was also recognized when the African American Cultural Center was named after him. His major works are The Piano Lesson (1990), Black Bart and the Sacred Hills (1980), Two Trains Running Fences (1987), The Homecoming, and Seven Guitars among others.
The play The Piano Lesson revolves around an old piano. The story setting is Doaker Charles home in Pittsburgh in 1936. Decades before then a slave owner of the Charles family engaged barter trade. Doaker’s grandmother and father were exchanged for a piano. The legacy cost the life of Doaker’s brother and due to this, the item is highly revered. What puzzles most is the fact that the sister seems to appreciate her family history more than the brother. She is not material centered, and she attaches value to her past and does not vows pragmatic lifestyles.
The Piano lesson is a drama piece of literature about family legacy and inheritance. The writer peps up his work with rich bits of comedy, reportage, music and storytelling as he systematically unravels his main theme. The play sets off with Boy Willie and Lymon driving to Pittsburg from Mississippi to put to sale watermelons. Boy Willie sees the need to go back to Pittsburgh so he can get enough money to invest in a farm. He sees land as a very valuable commodity, which will enable him to be independent if he buys it. The idea to trade the piano in order to get necessary sum of money for the farm escalates to a conflict, as his sister totally disagrees with his decision.
The play builds on the issues of selfishness such as material wants versus family. Most families have let material possessions ruin and suffocate peaceful and harmonious coexistence within families. The author artistically addresses the issue with utmost concern and eventually accomplishes his target when the family reaches a consensus to retain the piano.
Throughout his work, the writer was able to accomplish his purpose. It is vivid in the eventual reconciliation between Boy Willie, his sister and the family as seen towards the end of the literature piece. They end up playing the piano afresh. In a way Boy Willie gets to understand the intrinsic value of the piano; and later Berniece acquires the skill and dexterity for the legacy.
Wilson’s entire piece centers on an immense analogy of questions. It is evident that his plays do not only involve works of research into the particular language set and the everyday life occurrences. Subsequently, he brings the different eras infused with a sense of a torch of memory, history’s reputation and then the conflict over the family legacy. The work is a perfect representation of the history surrounding the African Americans. He strives to paint the ill practice as inhuman and barbaric.
He also advocates the rich values of culture, which he wants to nurture, preserve and uphold. He uses the piano to build his plot on the theme of conflict and its resolution. He also highlights the value of knowledge as he is able to set forth the idea of how valuable the piano was to the family’s underlying history. Boy Willie, who initially wanted to sell the item, now comes to terms with his sister after he gets to understand the intrinsic cultural value of the piano.
One beckoning problem about Wilson’s work is the way he introduces the spirits making them a center of his advocacy. One would wonder whether their coexistence is real or if there is concoction to win an argument and nullify Boy Willie’s interest. In a bid to harmonize the family, priestly roles are assigned as the piano is played again.
I would encourage others to read this book since it is a rich platform to learn and appreciate culture based on individualism and prosperity. It has different moral lessons in addition to the drama, entertainment and music. It also teaches creativity in writing, which is shown in the sequence of events right from the start. The family that seems to be torn apart eventually comes to a common understanding as they draw their identity to their tradition.
Another reason why I would encourage to read August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson is that it discourages face value judgments. Most people go for the face value judgment of an item or a personality. The writer addresses the issue of social discrimination as shown in his bibliography when claims of plagiarism are imposed on him, contrarily; he bore a wealth of creativity and high potential.
The legacy is used as a symbol of unity and this could apply to all facets of human life, family build ups and other forms of relationships. It is so amazing how the old piano in the first scenes of the play makes the family run into wrangle and eventually becomes a unifying factor as the play comes to the end.