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The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson

by August Wilson

The Piano Lesson Act 2, Scene 2 Summary

  • Lights come up on the kitchen.
  • Berniece pours water in a tub for her bath.
  • There's a knock at the door.
  • Berniece lets Avery inside.
  • He notes that the all the watermelons are almost sold.
  • She asks Avery if Mr. Cohen is going to let him rent from him.
  • Avery says yes and that he talked him down to 30 dollars a month.
  • Berniece comments that the place Avery is going to rent is nice.
  • Ever so smoothly, Avery says, "I be at home and I get to thinking you up here and I'm down there. I get to thinking how that look to have a preacher that ain't married" (2.2.11).
  • Berniece tries to avoid his proposal.
  • Avery keeps going though; he talks about how he loves her, and that they ought to be together.
  • "I ain't ready to get married right now," says Berniece (2.2.14).
  • He tells her she's too young "to close up" (2.2.15).
  • Berniece replies, "I got a lot of woman left in me" (2.2.16).
  • Rudely, Avery says, "Where's it at? When's the last time you looked at it?" (2.2.18).
  • She is really offended by this and says that preachers shouldn't talk like that.
  • Berniece says Maretha is enough for her to have to "love and take care of" right now (2.2.20).
  • Avery tells her that she pushes everybody away.
  • She goes off on him, saying that a woman doesn't always have to have a man.
  • He says she's got to stop blaming everybody.
  • Avery tells her that she's got to let go of Crawley's death.
  • He adds that he doesn't know how much longer he'll wait for her.
  • Berniece tells him that, once he gets his church going, they'll talk about this again.
  • Right now, she's just too stressed out, what with the Boy Willie/piano conflict, on top of Sutter's ghost hanging out in the house.
  • Hey, here's an idea, says Berniece, why don't you bless that house and banish the ghost?
  • Avery isn't sure that he should mess around with that; he thinks you have to be a special kind of preacher for that.
  • Bernice says she thinks Boy Willie pushed Sutter down the well and that's why the ghost is hanging around.
  • She hopes that when her brother leaves the ghost will too.
  • Avery points out that the Ghosts of the Yellow Dog have been pushing people down wells for at while.
  • Berniece doesn't believe it; she thinks somebody is doing it and blaming it on the ghosts.
  • Avery says that the Ghosts might be the hand of god.
  • Berniece says again that she thinks Boy Willie pushed Sutter, so that he could get his land.
  • They start talking about the piano.
  • Avery tells her that she ought to start a choir at the church, using the piano. That way Boy Willie will see that it's being used.
  • Berniece says she refuses to play on the piano anymore.
  • Her mother used to make her play on it all the time; "when I played it she could hear my daddy talking to her," says Berniece (2.2.46).
  • Berniece adds that she used to think that the pictures on the piano came alive and walked around at night.
  • She tells Avery that she doesn't want to play on the piano because she doesn't want to wake up the spirits.
  • Berniece talks about how she has Maretha playing on the piano, but that she doesn't want her daughter to have to carry the weight of the family history around.
  • Avery tells her that she has let go of all that just like she needs to let go of Crawley's death.
  • He opens the lid to the piano and encourages her to play. He says that God's strength will help her.
  • She refuses.
  • He tries harder to convince her, but she just won't do it.
  • Avery says that he'll come by tomorrow and bless the house; she'll see the power of the Lord when he casts out Sutter's ghost.

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