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The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson


by August Wilson

The Piano Lesson Theme of Spirituality

The Piano Lesson presents an interesting blend of spirituality. The presence of Christianity is definitely felt in the play, mostly through Avery, a black minister. However, the characters in the play blend other traditions with their understandings of Christianity. In the world of The Piano Lesson, ghosts can be seen as the hand of God as well as the Devil. The play also shows examples of African spiritual traditions such as ancestor worship. At the play's climax, the Christian God, ghosts, and the spirits of the ancestors are all called upon to help get rid of a particularly troublesome ghost.

Questions About Spirituality

  1. In what ways does the play blend Christianity, African spirituality, and folk traditions?
  2. How are the elements of fire and water related to spirituality throughout the play?
  3. In what ways does Berniece function as a priestess?
  4. How can the piano be seen as an altar dedicated to spirits of the family's ancestors?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

When Berniece summons the spirits by playing the piano, she is instinctually practicing the ancient African tradition of ancestor worship.

At the climax of the play, Berniece finds a spiritual connection to the continent of Africa.

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