The Piano Lesson
by August Wilson
The Piano Lesson The Supernatural 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.
Boy Willie: "The Ghosts of the Yellow Dog got Sutter." (1.1.39)
This is the first mention of any kind of ghost in the play. Get ready, because you've got lots more waiting for you. It seems that often times the play uses ghosts to represent history that its characters must carry with them. The Ghosts of the Yellow Dog seem to represent, in many ways, the history of racially motivated violence that once plagued the South, because their real life counterparts were brutally set on fire inside a boxcar.
Doaker: "[Berniece] say Sutter's ghost standing at the top of the steps." (1.1.131)
Here's the next ghost we hear about in the play. This guy is the grandson of the man that once owned the Charles family. Therefore, you could see his ghost as representing the history of slavery.
Berniece: "I told [Sutter's ghost] to go away and he just stood there looking at me…calling Boy Willie's name." (1.1.150)
This brings up one of the big mysteries of the play. Did Boy Willie kill Sutter? Is this why the ghost shows up in Pittsburgh? Boy Willie denies it many times, but Berniece doesn't ever seem to really believe him. Boy Willie definitely has motive. He wants Sutter's land and he's got plenty of reasons for revenge. Still, though, he never admits to it, and he just strikes us as the kind of character who would brag about killing Sutter (at least to Lymon). Put on your detective hat as you read the play, and tell us what you think.