Piano Lesson Symbolism Essay

Words: 1764
Pages: 8

August Wilson's use of symbolism is an important and effective method of storytelling in The Piano Lesson. Symbolism is a technique used by writers to associate one object or idea with another. This technique is essential in The Piano Lesson due to the small-scale, rural environment in which the story is told. Important thoughts and ideas that Wilson is trying to portray about African-American society could never be expressed without symbolism, due to this small setting. There are many examples of symbolism in The Piano Lesson, but one can get a good idea of the importance of this technique by exploring some of the more prevalent ones. The most recognizable symbol throughout the story is the piano that the family owns. Another …show more content…
Another important symbol in The Piano Lesson is the "magic" suit that Lymon wears when he and Boy Willie go out on their "night on the town." Wining Boys tries to make some money by selling Lymon a suit, mentioning that "That's a fifty-five dollar suit. That's the kind of suit the bigshots wear… The women will fall out their windows they see you in a suit like that… go on and wear it down the street and get you a woman." (60) Wining Boy is explaining that if Lymon wears this suit, it will transform him from the country low-life to the big shot city gentleman that all the ladies are after. The suit itself symbolizes a maturation process in Lymon, a character that really doesn't much class or importance for that matter up until this point in the story. Basically, Lymon has transformed himself into a northern boy, something that Wining Boy notes by stating "That's the kind of suit you need for up here in the north." (61) By using such a simple transformation, Wilson is basically showing us the kind of attitude that existed during this time period. All it really takes for someone to become a northern boy is to put on some kind of suit that makes everyone around them react differently. There were a lot of people that wanted to move up north and be on equal terms with the white man. Lymon himself represents this population of people, and his suit is a symbol of this transformation. Now that Lymon is wearing the suit, he states to Berniece that