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The Piano Lesson


Act III, Scenes 3 and 4

Summary Act III, Scenes 3 and 4


Scene 3

Several hours later, Boy Willie enters the darkened house with Grace, a local girl he picked up, in tow. Though the darkness and lack of a bed make Grace reluctant to stay, they begin to kiss on the couch. In their anxiety, they knock over a lamp. Berniece comes down the stairs and orders them out. Unwilling to stay where she is not wanted, Grace takes Willie back to her own flat.

As Berniece is making tea, there is a knock at the door. Lymon has returned looking for Willie. He tried to go to a picture show with Grace's friend, Dolly, but ended up leaving her after she had a few drinks at his expense. Initially Grace had shown interest in him, but Willie got to her first.

They discuss Lymon's plans to stay in Pittsburgh. Berniece expresses her disapproval of the local saloons. Lymon defends their women patrons, as most of them are just lonely. As for himself, he is tired of one-night stands, dreaming of finding the right woman. He wants to find a job and set himself to provide for a wife. He wonders why Berniece is not married and encourages her to become Avery's wife.

They chat further. Lymon compliments Berniece's nightgown and prepares for bed. Musing on Wining Boy's supposed magic suit, he withdraws a bottle of perfume from his coat pocket and gives it to Berniece. He anoints her and they kiss. Berniece exits up the stairs. Lymon strokes his suit lovingly, sure of its magic.

Scene 4

Late next morning, Boy Willie rushes in, waking Lymon from the couch—apparently he has not spent the night with Berniece. He left Grace's last night when her old lover, Leroy, swung by. Willie has called the buyer about the piano, though perhaps did not convince him to pay as much as he would have. The two attempt to move the piano. Sutter's ghost is heard, but the two do not notice it.

Suddenly Doaker enters and orders them to stop and wait for Berniece to come home. The two men continue their efforts but to no avail. Ultimately they exit to fetch some rope and a makeshift dolly, Willie pledging to sell the piano no matter what.