The Piano Lesson
by August Wilson
The Piano Lesson Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
Doaker: "This is my house, nigger! I ain't gonna let you or nobody else carry nothing out of it. You ain't gonna carry nothing out of here without my permission!" (2.2.43)
Doaker is the authority around here; his house is his kingdom and he makes the laws. Even though he wants to get rid of the piano, he won't let Boy Willie take it out of respect for Berniece. We think it's pretty ironic here that Doaker is keeping the piano from being taken out of a house, when back in the day he helped take it out of Sutter's home.
Boy Willie: "I got the power of death too. […] I can call him up. The white man don't like to see that. He don't like for you to stand up and look him square in the eye and say, 'I got it too.' Then he got to deal with you square up." (2.5.29)
During the 1930s you could definitely say that white people had "the power of death" over black people. Many places in the South were under the influence of the Ku Klux Klan. This white supremacist organization was responsible for the brutal murders of countless African Americans over the years. The vast majority of these murders were ignored or even supported by the law of the land. When Boy Willie says that he has "the power of death" too, he's rebelling against this brutality. If the Klan came to his door they'd know that he's willing to go just as far as they are.
Berniece: (Singing.) "I want you to help me/I want you to help me/Mama Berniece/I want you to help me/Mama Esther/I want you to help me/Papa Boy Charles/I want you to help me/Mama Ola/I want you to help me" (2.5.203)
Berniece calls on the power of her ancestors to banish Sutter's ghost. It's through this brave act that she restores order to her house.