The Piano Lesson | Study Guide

August Wilson

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Course Hero. "The Piano Lesson Study Guide." Course Hero. 5 Oct. 2017. Web. 5 July 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Piano-Lesson/>.

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Course Hero. (2017, October 5). The Piano Lesson Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 5, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Piano-Lesson/

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Course Hero. "The Piano Lesson Study Guide." October 5, 2017. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Piano-Lesson/.

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Course Hero, "The Piano Lesson Study Guide," October 5, 2017, accessed July 5, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Piano-Lesson/.

The Piano Lesson | Scene Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • 5 a.m.

    Boy Willie and Lymon arrive at Doaker's with a truckload of watermelons to sell.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • A few minutes later

    Boy Willie shows Lymon the family piano; he plans to sell it so he can buy Sutter's land.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • A few minutes later

    Berniece shouts from upstairs; she has seen Sutter's ghost.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • A few minutes later

    Berniece accuses Boy Willie of killing Sutter and tells him to sell his melons and leave.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Shortly afterward

    Boy Willie asks Maretha to play the piano and tells her to ask Berniece about the carvings on it.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • A short time later

    Avery arrives and talks about the dream that made him decide to be a preacher.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • A moment afterward

    Berniece tells Boy Willie she's not selling the piano.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Three days later

    Wining Boy tells how he was empowered after talking to the Ghosts of the Yellow Dog.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • A few minutes later

    Boy Willie and Lymon explain their wood-selling scheme and how Crawley got killed.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • A short while later

    Doaker explains the history of the carvings on the piano and why Berniece won't sell it.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • Soon afterward

    Berniece welcomes Wining Boy. She blames Boy Willie for Crawley's death and starts hitting him.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • The next day

    Lymon and Boy Willie have sold a lot of melons. Lymon buys a silk suit from Wining Boy.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • That evening

    Berniece again refuses to marry Avery, who agrees to bless the house to get rid of Sutter's ghost.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • Late that night

    Boy Willie brings Grace to the house, and Berniece throws them out.

    Act 2, Scene 3
  • A short time later

    Lymon talks to Berniece about his hopes for the future. They kiss before she goes up to bed alone.

    Act 2, Scene 3
  • The next morning

    Boy Willie and Lymon try to move the piano but can't; Sutter's ghost returns.

    Act 2, Scene 4
  • Later that day

    Boy Willie builds a dolly to move the piano. Berniece threatens to shoot him if he tries.

    Act 2, Scene 5
  • A few moments later

    Boy Willie tells Berniece not to raise Maretha to believe she's "at the bottom."

    Act 2, Scene 5
  • Soon afterward

    Avery arrives and starts blessing the piano. Boy Willie joins in and fights with Sutter's ghost.

    Act 2, Scene 5
  • A short while later

    Berniece plays the piano, singing a plea to her ancestors. Sutter's ghost and Boy Willie leave.

    Act 2, Scene 5

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Epigraph For readers of the play The Piano Lesson, the script begins with this epigraph: Gin my cotton Sell my seed ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 1 It's 5 a.m. The Charles household is awakened by someone pounding on the door and yelling, "Hey, Doaker!" and "Hey, Bern... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 It's three days later. Doaker Charles's brother, Wining Boy, is drinking whiskey at the kitchen table and talking about ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 The next day Doaker Charles is ironing his uniform and singing a railroad song along with the radio. Wining Boy comes in... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 Later that evening Berniece is preparing a bath when Avery arrives. He's just seen the truck outside; it's almost empty.... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 It's several hours later, and Berniece is in bed. Boy Willie comes in with Grace. She is put off when she finds out they... Read More
Act 2, Scene 4 Boy Willie gets back late the next morning to find Lymon asleep on the sofa. Willie wants Lymon to help him load the pia... Read More
Act 2, Scene 5 Later that day, Berniece walks in on Boy Willie screwing wheels on a plank of wood and telling Maretha about the Ghosts ... Read More
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