Heritage of Slavery in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson

Dlnya A. Muhammed, Mariwan N. Hasan


To some extent, everyone has been extremely impacted by the American history of slavery, but those who, understandably feel it the most are the Americans descended from slaves. Modern drama influenced African Americans to realize the nature of their whole history in America as being deeply affected by the heritage of slavery, particularly to guarantee that others recognize the institution for the inhumanity and terror that it was, also to motivate those with slavery in their past to demand this experience as part of their cultural identity.

August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson looks at the African Americans segregation from Mississippi who has travelled North without coming to terms with their southern past. This dispute is expressed in the brother-sister conflict between Bernice and Boy Willie over an antique, 135-year-old piano that their great-grandfather carved for a white man, which has been inherited by the siblings now. They argue over whether to respect their slave ancestors or deny the family’s past enslavement. Boy Willie wishes to sell the piano to be free of the past, but this longing is also his way of considering his ancestors and building on their heritage. For him, selling the piano is a proof of the past not a refusal. On the other hand, Bernice desires to possess the piano as a symbol of her African American heritage. The piano symbolizes the struggles and relations between the past and present that exists yet. It proposes that the profiteering of black’s artistic and manual achievement by whites is an American tradition underlying the reality of the American dream.


Slavery, Modern Drama, The Piano Lesson, Americans & August Wilson.

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