The Piano Lesson Study Guide asserts how “each sibling wants to break the cycle in which they are bound up by blood and history” (26) as Berniece and Boy Willie constantly have arguments and disagreement over the piano all over the play. Berniece doesn’t approve selling the piano since she believes that their ancestors’ spirits still live there. On the contrary, Boy Willie wishes to use or sell piano for monetary gain and relinquish past memories in exchange of better lifestyle. Berniece hesitates to even touch piano to evade resurfacing of excruciating past memories but Boy Willie considers it as wastage of family inheritance and legacy.
Cultural conflicts occurred when African slaves were deported to America. Their non-Christian traditions and diverse background collided with the European Christian norms practised by white masters. Most of the tribal values and faiths were either deviated or lost since the slaves assimilated with European American culture. Also Tolnay puts forward “the migrants were less likely to be literate, or had lower levels of educational attainment” (5) which hampered their total absorption into the Northern Whites as well as blacks, further worsening cultural differences. In the climax, Berniece succeeds in exiling the ghost of Sutter from Doaker’s house, while the preacher, Boy Billie tries to wrestle with it and Avery fails to drive it away. Finally Berniece gathers courage to play piano and invokes spirits of her ancestors to save them. The fight between Charles family and ghost of Sutter addresses the ghosts of poverty, racial discrimination and slavery still haunting African-Americans. The faith in culture and beliefs played vital role as Berniece held her beliefs to overcome her fears and resistance from Sutter’s ghost.