The Piano Lesson By August Wilson Essay

1063 Words Nov 30th, 2015 5 Pages
In the years following Reconstruction, the remnants of a bitterly broken south left hatred to take root among the attempts to fill social and political gaps between black and white Americans. As the North progressed economically, black codes and laws in the South stacked the odds against black Americans. In The Piano Lesson, August Wilson brings to focus the resulting hardships of African Americans and their responses to these hostilities through characters Boy Willie, his uncle Doaker and his friend Lyman through their personal experiences and struggle for opportunity. From Post-Reconstruction to the 1930’s, August Wilson’s play, The Piano Lesson, demonstrates a substantial lack of political and social progress through the convict lease system and African American acceptance of racism, despite attempts to improve their situation.
In the late nineteenth century, the introduction of the convict lease system by state governments marked a significant lack of political progress for African Americans due to rampant corruption. In The Piano Lesson, when Lymon is arrested for vagrancy, Mr. Stovall, pays his prison fees so that he must “work for him to pay him back his hundred dollars” despite the fact that Lymon would “rather take [his] thirty days [in prison]” (Wilson 37). The word “rather” implies that the authorities forced Lymon into hard labor suggesting that the reason for such punishment is not to rehabilitate him but rather to trap him in a cycle of slave-like labor…

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