The Piano Lesson
by August Wilson
The Piano Lesson Slavery 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: "Now, our granddaddy's name was Boy Willie. Now, he was a worker of wood. […] everything my granddaddy made Mr. Sutter owned cause he owned him." (1.2.115)
This was common in slavery times. Many slaves were skilled craftsman. However, the things they made were automatically the property of their masters.
Doaker: "That's when him and Mama Berniece got married. They called it jumping the broom. That's how you got married in them days." (1.2.119)
The ceremony of "jumping the broom" was the slaves' wedding ceremony. Many think that the ceremony originated from African traditions, but no definite evidence has been found. It's important to point out, though, that this ceremony wasn't recognized by the white establishment. As Doaker's story of his grandparents shows, couples could be split up and sold at any time.
Doaker: "[Boy Charles] Say [the piano] was the story of our whole family and as long as Sutter had it…he had us. Say we was still in slavery." (1.2.119)
To Boy Charles, the piano represented his family. He refused to let it be owned by Sutter. The thought of the piano being in Sutter's house was just too big a reminder of slavery. By taking the piano from Sutter's house, Boy Charles in a way symbolically cut the ties that bound his family. Unfortunately, it cost him his life. Do you think it was worth it?