The Piano Lesson and Culture

The Piano’s Lesson
Family history is an essential key to life that we must keep with great importance.   How do we keep it?   Be it some sacred heirloom like an ancient necklace or piece of land, it is something to hold with value and respect, but one must also not consider it as a burden, but something to grow off it.   In The Piano Lesson, the characters struggle around an old piano to hold their roots in place.   Boy Willie believes that the piano should be sold, whereas Berniece is strongly fixed on keeping the piano, no matter what.   Berniece and Boy Willie argue about this frequently, and both hold valid points on the selling of it.   There are many ways that this piano represents their ancestry and so many parts of their lives that have resulted from it.
It symbolizes the immense pain and suffering that the Charles’ family had gone through in slavery.   The elaborate carvings on this piano depict their family when they were slaves, which is in a way degrading, and possibly embarrassing.   Ms. Ophelia had these pictures engraved on it because that way “she had her piano and her niggers too.”   I imagine that would make them feel like a random piece of property, which is really what they were considered as by their owners.   For Boy Willie, this gives all the more reason to sell it.   Although it is demeaning, surviving throughout these difficult times makes their family stronger, and Berniece would not want to deny that.   Berniece’s father was killed over the piano, and she believes that simply selling it would be disrespectful to him, as he would have died for nothing.
Contradictory to the pain and burdens that the piano symbolizes, it also embodies freedom.   After all, had they not overcome the times of slavery?   It displays irony, because even though the piano has carvings of their family as slaves and was owned by the slave-owners, now they have possession over it.   However, as Boy Willie points out, by selling it, he can use the money to obtain the land...