The Piano Man Essay examples

Submitted By raebabie829
Words: 1139
Pages: 5

Heritage and Economic Prosperity Challenges Succeed

The play “The Piano Lesson” by August Wilson successfully exemplifies Family Heritage and Economic Prosperity, two very important branches of the “American Dream.” Taking place in 1930’s in Pittsburgh, it also shows how times have changed, and the naïve idea of the American Dream can sometimes be a farther reach for different heritages. The Piano Lesson touches upon different aspects of life including the economy, family, and the ever-so suspicious supernatural. In the time frame that the “The Piano Lesson” takes places, there is a whole lot going on in society. Lymon and Boy Willie, two main characters, have traveled from Mississippi to sell watermelons in Pittsburgh. They are saving their pennies to purchase land from the Charles family’s master, that of who’s ghostly presence haunts the property that his family resides on. When they discover that they are running a little short on money, Boy Willie tries to convince his sister to let him keep the piano and sell it for money to buy more land that he originally planned on buying. The piano is a keepsake, and an ornament that his family holds dear, and is extremely protective of it. This brings up Heritage, and how it differs from generation to generation. The piano is almost like a voodoo object to the Charles’ family, and if they were to get rid of it, it would be almost as if they would be cursed forever. In the 1930’s, African American families were often involved with voodoo and other supernatural activities. They believed in ghosts, and life after death, and passed all of those ideas down to younger generations, such as Boy Willies and Berniece’s daughter Maretha. Their heritage in the 1930’s; suspicions, and trying to make as much money as possible in order to fulfill a different American Dream. “All that’s in the past. If my daddy had seen where he could have traded that piano in for some landed of is own, it wouldn’t be sitting up here now… (Page 46)” This quote shows that even two siblings may believe in a different heritage when it comes down to for this intense a item. Page 2 Unfortunately, African Americans in the 1930’s weren’t given much opportunity for success and prosperity. Lymon and Boy Willie had to go as far as selling watermelons out of there truck miles from where they lived so they could get ahead. When that wasn’t enough, they had to try to convince Berniece to let him sell the one item that they all cherished, and that they all believed had a piece of their family name attached to it. Since
The play took place in the beginning of the Great Depression; it is understandable as to why times were hard. In the 1950’s, as life began to modernize and the Economy became more opportunistic for society in general, the idea of the “American Dream” became more realistic and not as farfetched for people. It seemed possible to have land, a house, jobs, and live comfortably. “Boy Willie say charge them a quarter more. They didn’t care. A couple of people give me a dollar and told me to keep the change. (Page 59).” Twenty years prior, Boy Willie and Lymon were trying to sell watermelons cheap to try to make ends meet just as sow in the quote above. The fact that money played such a big role in the idea of how life should be really makes the whole idea of the perfect life, family, and home, a bit hypocritical. If the “American Dream” is supposed to portray happiness, and the only way to be happy was if there was enough money available, than is money really what makes the world go ‘round? Maybe the American Dream was just a way to flaunt success in the 19th century. The economic prosperity would win out over heritage because even if you believe in only one way to do something, the economy may come in the way. For an example if someone does not believe in a certain job, and because the economy fell and you had no other choice you may rethink your heritage to take care of your family…