Xi’an International Studies University, Xi’an, 710128, China
August Wilson’s play The Piano Lesson reveals the dilemma of African Americans in dealing with their ethnic and cultural heritage, which stirs a discussion about what attitude should African Americans take toward their history and culture and how to build their identity. “Double Consciousness”, developed by W. E. B. Du Bois, describes the fractured and conflicted mental state of African Americans in the process of self-exploration and identity construction. The play shows these two unreconciled strivings by discussing whether the piano should be sold. They attempt to maintain a sense of pride in their Africanness, while simultaneously being assimilated into a dominant white culture. Through analyzing the two main characters Berneice and Willie’s confusion and self-assertion based on the concept of double consciousness, it could be seen that the way to escape their identity dilemma is not achieved by the attitude of adjustment and submission, but by the acknowledgment of African Americans’ link to Africa and the fight for unalienable rights as American citizens.
The Piano Lesson, August Wilson, Double Consciousness, Du Bois, Identity
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