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The Piano Lesson is a play by August Wilson that portrays characters of contrasting views. Some of the characters believe in the acquirement of self-worth from their past. For others, the past is only significant if it can be converted to money. I think that holding on to such procession does not benefit one. On the other hand, these possessions represent memories and traditions of the family members who owned them. Therefore, this is a controversial issue which comes down to one question, “Is one’s self-worth acquired from their past?”
Berniece differed with her brother, Boy Willie, on what to do with their piano. Boy Willie had a valid argument when he suggested the sale of the piano. His father, Charles, had been a slave to the white man for a long time. He should have thought of selling the piano and liberating his family from slavery and poverty. Boy Willie suggested that they should not repeat the mistake committed by their dad. Unlike his sister, Boy Willie did not seem to draw memories of his past through the piano. He thought that all their family culture could be narrowed down to monetary value. He was business-minded and worked to attain financial freedom. We see Willie selling lemons with his 29 year-old friend, Lymon. However, there were people standing on his way. This creates a disturbing thought in the mind. Should people stand between youths and their ambitions in the name of culture preservation? Should one be poor knowing clearly that they have a possession of worth just because it belonged to his ancestors? Furthermore, if the ancestors were to be asked, would they choose preservation of their memories over their grandchildren’s happiness and success?
Berniece always emphasized on keeping the piano. Being five years older than Boy Willie, she could be seen to be the voice of reason. However, she claimed that the piano brought unpleasant memories to her. She remembered how her mother used to ask her to play it. Mama Ola could not get over the death of her husband and whenever the piano played, she could hear Charles speaking. Therefore, Ola preferred not to play the piano. Why was she insisting on keeping the piano if the only thing it brought to her was unlucky memories? Should a piano like that console her during hard times instead of creating them? Preservation of one’s memories might be beneficial in some cases. However, I would appreciate some advice on the matter. Some memories deny people’s peace of mind and prevent them from moving on with their lives. Should such memories be held on to through physical manifestation when they can easily be disposed and still bring in some cash?
Doaker Charles was always telling stories about the piano and revealing his history. However, he did not make firm decisions or take stand on the piano issue. He only understood that Bernice did not want it disposed. As their uncle, he should have guided them and end the controversy. This hits the mind, because there are many elderly people who do not seem to offer advice (Wilson 15). Whatever stand he had, Doaker should have made it clear to help his niece and nephew. Whenever such issues occur, it is the general thought that elderly members of the family should offer advice.
The matter of holding on to inherited property is as tricky as shown in the play. Therefore, it is the duty of the family members to make sure that the controversy ends. This will depend on the memories held by the possession as well as its worth. This will go a long way to reduce the quarrels in many families over the matter.