In The Piano Lesson, by August Wilson, The characters Boy Willie and Berniece disagree

The Piano Lesson: The Conflict Over Selling the Family Piano

The characters Boy Willie and Berniece in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson argue over selling the family piano. Boy Willie and Berniece both say they have the right to decide what happens to the piano. Berniece has a strong emotional attachment to the piano since it is a family heirloom. In Act 1, Doaker also assures Boy Willie that she will not sell it and that Berniece thinks it has blood on it.

Willie, the kid, wants money to buy land to live on and provide for himself, and he knows he can get it by selling the piano. He doesn't have the same emotional attachment to it as Berniece does. I can see both sides to their argument. If I was in either person situation I believe I would have similar feelings. If I was attached to an heirloom I would not want my sibling to snatch it away; however, if I was desperate for money to provide a better life for myself I would sell it.

I would say that in this specific situation I would lean more towards siding with Berniece, because she is so attached to it that the piano is priceless to her. In her mind, you cannot pay enough for it because it means so much to her. It may be difficult, but Boy Willie should try to find another way to make money without selling the family piano and maybe Berniece could help him.

Agreeing with Student 1

Yes, I agree with the opinion provided by student 1 as Berniece has a stronger argument over the conflict of selling the piano and is deeply attached to it. There could be other ways of achieving Boy Willie’s ambition but her sister would not find the presence of her ancestors in any other piano in the world.

Student 2's Perspective

From the beginning of the play, we see Boy Willie and Bernice being worlds apart about the sale of the family piano. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano so he can go and buy Sutter’s piece of land, and make something out of himself. On the other hand, Bernice feels that the piano has too much sentimental value to sell it. This is considering the fact that their ancestors were carved onto the piano, and also that their father lost his life securing it. She therefore strongly and boldly disagrees with Willie’s idea.

I feel Bernice has a better argument of the two. The piano is the only thing they have of their ancestors that they can pass down to the next generation. It has become more like a family heirloom, and therefore priceless, and cannot be sold. Boy Willie’s argument is selfish and shallow. He only wants the piano for personal gain. He is not even certain he will find the land unsold.

Agreeing with Student 2

Yes, I agree with the opinion that student 2 has provided. Berniece knows that the piano is the only thing that stands as a symbol of her past generation and it shall also stay as a symbol to her family’s future generation. She is right in not allowing Boy Willie to take the piano away.

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