Gilgamesh Epic Poem

"But then I ask the question: How many men must die before we can really have
a free and true and peaceful society?How long will it take?If we can catch the
spirit, and the true meaning of this experience, I believe that this nation can
be transformed into a society of love, of justice, peace, and brotherhood where
all men can really be brothers." -Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Since
the beginning of early civilization, differences in races and cultures have been
a part of society. Along with these differences, there evolved a hatred against
what was not considered " the norm" . For many years, prejudice, especially
in the form of racism, has sparked many hate crimes and wars. Over generations,
people have devised strategies to combat these injustices in the most effective
way possible, whether it be civil or violent ways of protest. August Wilsonís

Pulitzer Prize winning play, " The Piano", is set in the early 1930s at a
time when racism was spreading like wild fire. The play takes a close look into
two dynamically different approaches to overcoming prejudice in America.

Although their strategies differ greatly, both Berniece and Boy Willie both find
ways to combat the problems associated with living in a racist culture. Slavery
is still fresh in the minds of many blacks and whites during the Ď30s and so
are many harsh feelings. Berniece and Boy Willie tackle the racism of their time
in the same way their parents did. Berniceís personality is very similar to
her motherís, Mama Ola. She chooses to avoid conflicts over racism whenever
possible, even if it means keeping quiet about subjects that should be
addressed. She finds it easier to " lay low" than to create a situation.

Berniece views the history of the piano with the same disdain and sorrow that
her mother held for so many years. In one of many heated arguments with Boy

Willie, Berniece says, " Mama Ola polished over this piano with her tears for
seventeen years...seventeen years worth of cold nights and an empty bed. For
what a piano?...To get even with somebody....and what did it ever lead to? more
killing and more thieving." When Boy Willie speaks, one can almost hear the
vigor and determination of his father, Papa Boy Charlesí voice. He, much like
his father, believes in the theory: "by whatever means necessary." Boy

Willie is willing to do whatever it takes and remove whoever stands in his way;
and that includes getting rid of any white man that poses a threat against his
dreams. Boy Willie is very proud that his father gave his life to steal the
piano, with the carvings of his familyís history, from Sutter, the man who
enslaved his great grandmother and his grandfather. Papa Boy Charles believed
that his family would always be slaves as long as Sutter still had ownership of
the piano. Boy Willie tells Berniece that she should tell her daughter, Maretha,
about the story behind the piano so that she can be proud of her grandfather.

"You ought to mark down on the calendar the day that Papa Boy Charles brought
that piano into the house...throw a party...have a celebration." Although
their points of view are similar to their parents, they are very opposed in
their strategies for dealing with racism. At a time when racism is at its peak
due to unresolved issues on both sides, the future for blacks in America seems
bleak. Although slavery has ended, brutal attacks against blacks still exist and
many are worse off financially than they were as slaves. Berniece looks at her
lifestyle from a realistís point of view with little optimism. She sees no
chance of growth for blacks and expresses this when she says, " Iím going to
tell her [Maretha] the at the bottom with the rest of us...thatís
just where she living." Berneice believes that blacks are at the bottom of
life and they may never overcome their situation. Although she believes that
blacks can find success; she feels that successs is limited to the boundaries in
which blacks are born. She follows the idea that some blacks refer to as " the
house negro mentality". This nickname was coined for those slaves who were
comfortable with their lifestyles because they saw nothing good that could come
from freedom. Berniece believes blacks must gratefully take what is handed to
them and work with what they receive. If they become to greedy they may wind up
with nothing. Surprisingly, Boy Willie chooses to