Essay on Holding On Versus Letting Go: A Continuous Life-Long Battle

Essay on Holding On Versus Letting Go: A Continuous Life-Long Battle

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In August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, two African American men, Lymon and Boy Willie, go on a trip to visit Boy Willie’s sister Berneice. They initially travel to Berniece’s house to sell a truck load of watermelons that will help Boy Willie purchase a piece of land. While on this visit, Boy Willie tries to convince his sister to sell an old piano that has been in their family for generations. Because of the piano’s history Berneice indefinitely refuses to sell it, whether it’s for her brother’s benefit or anyone else. The play illustrates a sibling quarrel over a beloved family heirloom that contains carvings of their enslaved ancestors and late grandfather. People or characters usually overcome the past at some point or at least develop a defense mechanism; however, Berneice seems to be holding on with both hands. She does not make an effort to get over what has happened in her life nor does she try to move on. The underlying matter August Wilson is showing us through The Piano Lesson is holding on versus letting go and the bitter effects it has on oneself and one’s family. Wilson is showing us Berneice holding back because she fears the unknown future and she feels as if forgetting the past will be leaving a part of her behind.
In The Piano Lesson Berneice is really unhappy with herself, so she lives her life through her daughter Maretha. In scene two Berneice says, “Mama Ola polished this piano with her tears for seventeen years. For seventeen years she rubbed on it till her hands bled”(Wilson 52). This displays the pain Berneice holds in her heart for the instrument. She watches her own mothers anguish and does not want her child to go through the same thing. Evidence of this is shown when Berneice says, “She don’t have to ca...


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...r mothers from early age while the boys relationship only goes so far. She also says, “Men are more likely to see morality as a matter of rights and rules to be dealt with by formal reasoning. Women on the other hand deal with issues contextually” (Dobie 5). The quotes provide evidence for Berneice and Boy Willie’s relationship and why they may not understand one another. Boy Willie does not accept the emotional value the piano holds for Berneice because he does not have that connection with his mother. Berneice tells her brother several times throughout the play, “You don’t do nothing but bring trouble with you everywhere you go. If it wasn’t for you Crawley would still be alive” (Wilson 15). The distaste nature in her voice displays how she feels about Boy Willie and his actions toward certain situations. It is obvious they do not get along well but sometimes Bern

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