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Comparison Essay For The Piano Lesson

1262 words - 6 pages

Symbolic Comparison of The Piano Lesson and On the Road

These two stories deal with and serve as an explanation of conditions befalling African Americans during the Depression era. These stories tell us of African Americans, who were overlooked by a prejudice society. In life, we are often confronted with boundaries created by society and ourselves. In our limited understanding of what those boundaries represent, we find ourselves confined by our ego. Alison Clarke suggested, “Racism and prejudices have plagued society for many years, and many of us have been judged and condemned for expressing our true selves”(21). In Wilson’s’ play, The Piano Lesson, this story is about a ...view middle of the document...

It seems that Berniece feels that this is the only way to connect with her family. The piano is a testimonial of the hardships, which their families have experienced. The whole history is carved into the piano. In this way, the piano not only stands as evidence of the hardships of a particular family of slaves, but it also stands for the whole of the black American experience. In the book, Modern America Drama, Bibsy stated, “The piano as symbolic of the past becomes a source of conflict between Boy Willie and his sister Berniece”(64). She does not want to sell the piano because she has an emotional attachment with it. She has not used the piano herself because her mother had wept over it. Since her mother is dead Berniece does not play the piano anymore, but refuses to let go of it. The memories that she cherishes between her mother and the piano has made
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her extremely attached to the piano. She cannot play the piano because of the memories that it invokes. She is greatly disturbed by the past.
For Boy Willie, the piano symbolizes the American way. The American way is to live with financial freedom. He is dreaming about woeking in land that belongs to him. He has been offered a pice of land that his forefathers had worked as slaves. They had farmed the land for their white master Sutter, who is dead now. Boy Willie has to collect the money, if he wants to do so. Since they were slaves they had no rights to the land. He has most of the money, but he will have the rest if he sells the piano. He has a vision of the future, but is unable to recognize the value of the past. The author Berkowitz suggested, “Boy Willie has no consciousness of the value of the piano as a legacy of his past” (31). It seems as though he refuses to believe that his family was once slaves. His seems to forget that the experience of his race is different from other races. The experience of ones race is embedded in the consciousness of ones self identity (31). He thinks he can take the white man on his own terms. Unless he has a clear understanding of his past he will never be able to identify with the future.
Langston Hughes’, On the Road, uses beautiful symbolism and imagery. The author uses nature to demonstrate the characters’ unwillingness to participate in life. This story is about a powerless individual taking action on

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behalf of his situation. Alex Williams believes that “This short story illustrates the desperation and consequent violent actions of one man’s homeless plight on a snowy winter evening” (43). Hughes uses nature to demonstrate a distinct relationship amongst blacks and whites His use of snow and...

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