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.
Berniece: "[The Sheriff] might be looking for [Lymon] about that truck. He might have stole that truck. […]"
Doaker: "Now they might have stole them watermelons, but I don't believe they stole that truck." (1.1.65-1.1.68)
Notice, that both Berniece and Doaker suspect Boy Willie and Lymon of stealing. Berniece figures they stole the truck, while Doaker thinks they stole the watermelons. Neither one thinks the two could've gotten a hold of a truck load of watermelons legally. Boy Willie and Lymon deny these accusations, but the play allows us to remain suspicious. In some ways, the top of the play seems to set Boy Willie and Lymon up as representing those who live outside of the law, while Doaker and Berniece live within it.
Boy Willie: "Me and Lymon was up on Parchman Farm doing them three years." (1.1.86)
Boy Willie and Lymon both spent time in prison together, which helps explain why Berniece and Doaker assume that they stole the truckload of watermelons. They both do have a history of stealing. Note that neither one of them seems ashamed of this in any way. They don't feel like they've done anything wrong. Whatever they've stolen, they felt like it was their right to take.
Boy Willie: "I don't go by what the law say. The law's liable to say anything. I go by if it's right or not. […] I take and look at it for myself." (1.2.68)
What do you think about this? Is it right to disobey a law, if you think it's wrong? Most laws are put in place to keep society running smoothly. If we broke whatever law we wanted whenever we wanted to, society would be totally chaotic. On the other hand, there are many laws that have been overturned. For example, the Jim Crow laws which once segregated the South and stripped black people of their rights have been abolished. How do we as individuals decide whether a law is just or not?