A Disappointing Ending
The plot in The Piano Lesson weakened the play for me. The play starts out pretty serious and with many good messages. It leads you to expect a very serious ending that teaches you a good life lesson or wraps up the play. However, you get some big joke to end the play and it leaves you feeling extremely unsatisfied; like you went to Olive Garden and ordered an expensive meal that’s supposed to be “the best.” However, you fill up on the amazing bread sticks and outstanding salad, only to realize once your meal has come, that “the best” burger your ordered (and paid an arm and leg for) is only plastic. Throughout the play, there’s some humor here and there, like with Doaker and Wining Boy giving Lymon and Boy Willie tips on getting women.
“If you got the harbor, I got the ship” and “There ain’t nothing small ’bout me.” There’s also Lymon’s almost comical likeness of women. This humor in the beginning and middle of the play is to keep it moving and give the audience some laughs, it’s not so much that it makes the play ridiculous or a big joke. However, most of the play has a more serious setting. As a reader, you have access to a lot of good advice about life and many good ideas.
Avery shares that “A lot of things you got to find out on your own.” People can tell you something over and over again, but you’ve got to actually experience certain things to learn them. Doaker shares that you need to learn to be happy; if you aren’t happy here, you aren’t gonna be happy there. You can’t just expect a different place to bring you happiness. Boy Willie even shares a bit of wisdom “If you believe that’s where you at then you gonna act that way,” meaning if you think that you are at the lowest, then you’re gonna act at the lowest whereas if you say you’re at the highest, you’ll act like you’re at the highest.
The play’s ending consists of Boy Willie wrestling a ghost, Sutter’s ghost, Avery trying to bless the house, and Sutter’s ghost leaving on a train because Berniece plays the piano. The ghost in the end of the play is nothing like the ghost in the rest of the play. For most of the play, there were sightings of the ghost and the family feared the ghost, yet not until the ending did one actually have physical contact with the ghost nor did they all see it. In most of the play, the ghost could be explained as a figure of Berniece’s imagination. If you look at a cloud and see a puppy, and then you point to your friends and tell them what you see, they often will see it too. However, if you point to the same cloud, and without telling them about the puppy, ask them what they see, they probably won’t see that same puppy.
It’s the same way with the ghost. At first, Berniece “saw” the ghost. When she told the others, they might have seen it as well because they were stressed, they were frightened, or they truly believed her. However, at the end of the play, everyone sees the ghost at the same time, and the ghost actually wrestles Boy Willie and pushes him down the stairs. The Piano Lesson’s plot weakens the drama because it’s introduction, rising action, and parts of the climax lead you to expect a serious ending that pulls it all together, yet the resolution is like a joke.