August Wilson ‘s “ Twentieth Century Cycle ” is a aggregation of 10 dramas picturing African American history in decennaries and the live of black Americans, get downing from 1904 in Gem of the Ocean and stoping in 1997 in Radio Golf. Inside the rhythm, together with the characters we see the manifestation of African civilization on American land, we experience the rite of dispossession in Christian and African background, we are inside thaumaturgy and enigma, we meet root workers, and are present during the sacrificial violent death of animate beings. Together with August Wilson and the characters of the rhythm we besides enter the house of a wise Aunt Ester, the 1 who provides the replies to many inquiries in the Hill District community of Pittsburgh because she is “ the incarnation of African wisdom and tradition-a individual who has been alive since 1619 [ when the first slaves were brought to Virginia ] and has remained with us ” ( Dezell, 255 ) .
Aunt Ester has been the subject of involvement of a figure of research workers who see her purpose in the Cycle otherwise. Harry Elam suggests that the name of Aunt Ester sounds similar to “ ancestor ” ( 185 ) , as she is “ the connexion to the African American yesteryear, that is both personal and corporate, both stuff and metaphysical ” ( 185 ) . Mary Ann Snodgrass sees Aunt Ester as “ the ageless female parent to Wilson ‘s black Americans ” ( Caywood, 77 ) . Critics have claimed that Aunt Ester is “ far from a inactive site of recollection, but instead a life force, actively recommending for religious and cultural alteration, ” “ non simply a spirit unobserved but a material force: her actions have weight ” ( Elam, 235 ) . Cynthia Caywood and Carlton Floyd expression at her as “ the depository of African American civilization, history, hope, and spiritualityaˆ¦represent [ ing ] and reflect [ ing ] a historical and cultural fact ” ( 84 ) . Sandra Shannon sees her as a rhythm connection, “ [ ligature ] the rhythm as a whole to the 1000s of old ages and 1000000s of single histories that made the twentieth-century African American experience possible ” ( Nadel, 131 ) , “ another of Wilson ‘s unobserved but to the full realized forces that remind the characters and audience of the importance of cultural and familial committedness ” ( Elkins, 99 ) .
What is the position of August Wilson himself on the personality of Aunt Ester? In the afterword to King Hedley II, he writes: “ Aunt Ester has emerged for me as the most important character in the rhythm. The characters, after all, are her kids. The wisdom and tradition she embodies are valuable tools for the Reconstruction of their personality ” ( 114 ) . Wilson, therefore, intended to do Aunt Ester the cardinal figure of his rhythm, the female parent of all the characters. He besides describes her as “ a depository of the full black experience and wisdom ” ( Bryer, 116 ) , “ represent [ ing ] our tradition, our doctrine, our common people wisdom, our avocations, our civilization ” ( Pettengill, 241 ) .
Although Wilson claims that she is cardinal to all the dramas, we see or hear about her merely in four of them: Gem of the Ocean, Two Trains Runing, King Hedley II and Radio Golf. Taken in the rhythm in the order of production, she is first openly mentioned in Two Trains Runing as the 1 who “ [ makes ] you right with yourself ” and is 322 old ages old ( 24 ) . Peoples have merely come to recognize the demand to “ pick up the ball ” and to encompass the yesteryear in order to travel farther, when her decease is announced at the beginning of King Hedley II at the age of 366, transporting with her an apprehension of the sense of life, its regulations and secrets, and we are left with an unreciprocated inquiry: who is Aunt Ester, this adult female who is known to possess “ the Book of Life ” ( King Hedley II, 8 ) ? Is it true that she is about three hundred old ages old or is it a gag? Is she more African or Christian? Does she talk with the voice of the Christian God or is she a priest-doctor? Or possibly she is merely a wise adult female who sits in her house and heals people of the community? Or is she an African head of her community? The want to cognize more about Aunt Ester is put to the extreme, and eventually August Wilson, as if in response to his readers ‘ confusion about this cryptic character, puts her on phase, and we see her in the flesh in Gem of the Ocean, when she is a “ critical religious adviser for the community ” , consisting Africa and America in her personality.
Aunt Ester ‘s age makes her more than merely a religious advisor of the community. She is an senior of the community, connected by her scriptural age to cosmopolitan wisdom and apprehension of the secrets of God ‘s secret plan. It is exactly her age that makes her a Centre of the community, although the old adult female is said non to reply a door in 25 old ages ( Gem of the Ocean, 25 ) . As the senior, she welcomes people to her house, where they sit, discuss the intelligence, and are treated to some nutrient and drinks. It is besides symbolic that after her decease there is one more Elder in the rhythm, Elder Joseph Barlow, who appears in the last drama Radio Golf to convey back the memory of Aunt Ester, and the memory of African American history by forestalling the house of Aunt Ester from devastation, the house that one time was often visited for support and advice, the redemption centre of the community.
Aunt Ester is besides a wise adult female who speaks about Christian values and shows that without God inside the bosom a individual is physically alive but dead spiritually. Proclaiming the glorification of God, Aunt Ester invites her community to joy in God in the present, still non burying their African yesteryear. She besides opens their eyes to the possibilities in front and insists on confronting the white adult male with a healthy vision on life. As a wise adult female, she understands how hard it is for the visitants of her house to claim their belongings, their individuality and their rights after the long period of subjection and subjugation in bondage. In the wont of being submissive, soundless, patient and humiliated, the black adult male has forgotten his strength and his demands, but Aunt Ester changes this vision.
Furthermore, Aunt Ester is a leader of the Hill District community, conveying back the African civilization, tradition, African American history to it. Sandra Shannon speculates that the African American in the rhythm need a strong leader, a hero and Aunt Ester who “ is important in determining African American cultural individuality ” takes the function. She can be a successful leader as “ she makes sense out of the absurdness of [ people ‘s ] state of affairss and shows them how to recognize their ain bureau ” ( 2009, 36 ) . In Pamela Jean Monaco ‘s article three ways are mentioned for African Americans of the community to alter their lives- the Prophet Samuel and Malcolm X, but as they are dead already, Aunt Ester is the last opportunity ( 100 ) . She is on a mission to resuscitate Christian values and African civilization for the African Americans of the community.
Naming her an senior who brings back the African elements to the community, a wise adult female who heals the community, a leader who regulations the community, we come to a closer apprehension of the functions that Aunt Ester plays in the rhythm. I individual out the three major functions where Aunt Ester is prevailing:
1. Aunt Ester as a Preserver of African Culture. As an African slave holding shed many cryings of heartache, she expresses deep understanding for the hurting of her people and has a strong belief in the power of Africa, its civilization, its artistic look, its beliefs, ascendants, and blood memory for the interest of redemption. The dramatist makes her a strong voice for continuing a rich African civilization in the community of Pittsburgh and helps the African Americans find their cultural individuality.
2. Aunt Ester as an African therapist of psyche. Having lived all the manner through the period of bondage and agony, Aunt Ester has accumulated adequate power to mend the people in the community and to alter their lives by executing her rites. She is a sort of religious usher to the characters learning them and giving advice about the manner to happen harmoniousness in organic structure and head, and reconstructing, mending their cultural individuality.
3. Aunt Ester as an African Matriarch. With her advanced age, she presides over the lives of all the characters in the rhythm. She is an old adult female who was “ across the H2O. . . [ she has ] seen both sides of it ” ( Gem of the Ocean, 54 ) , and knows most secrets among the black people of the community, who are populating difficult lives and battle for equality. By her personality she urges African Americans to confront their cultural individuality.
In the paper I will reason that Aunt Ester is of import in the rhythm as the character who gives the other characters of the rhythm a sense of individuality. She urges African Americans of her community to care for the connexion to their community, and she besides heals the psyche of the visitants to her house and gives them the individuality with themselves, which speaks for collective and single individuality severally. Harmonizing to Richard Jenkins ‘s theory of societal individuality, single and corporate individualities constitute one identity-social individuality ( 26 ) , the thought that was shaped under the influence of the positions by such sociologists as George Herbert Mead, Erving Goffman, Fredrik Barth.
Aunt Ester besides represents the same hereditary roots with the characters of the rhythm, and suggests generational individuality, as the individuality of sharing the same yesteryear with one ‘s ascendants, which is expressed in the rhythm by common events that the characters face-the memory of the Middle Passage, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, etc.
However, African American individuality includes ethno- cultural constituent with its cultural look and socio-political constituent of being oppressed and discriminated, which comes neither into the theory of societal individuality nor generational individuality. Ethno-cultural and socio-political constituents enter cultural individuality, the theory expressed by Stuart Hall, Paul Du Gay, Simon Frith, and Homi Bhabha, who, for illustration, in Questions of Cultural Identity claim that history and civilization form individuality. Personal and corporate individualities as constituents of societal individuality besides enter cultural individuality. Simon Frith, talking about cultural individuality, peculiarly, stresses that individuality is connected to one ‘s social relationships, or the thought of community in August Wilson ‘s rhythm, with the impossibleness to construct one ‘s individuality ‘autonomously ‘ ( 125 ) , the thought highlighted through the character Aunt Ester in Wilson ‘s dramas. He farther stresses that “ self-identity is cultural individuality ” ( 125 ) , and therefore Aunt Ester, who gives her visitants the sense of personal individuality, at the same clip gives to them their cultural individuality, establishing her rites on shared experience.
In this paper I would wish to research the character Aunt Ester, this complex figure, from the point of position of the above mentioned three functions, which finally bring cultural individuality to the African Americans. These readings will assist us in qualifying Aunt Ester in the public presentation history of Gem of the Ocean in the 2nd chapter. I will establish my statement on Aunt Ester ‘s apprehension of life with its adversities and joys, her instructions of Christian values, her vision of the household and duty, her thoughts on the significance of freedom, every bit good as her words of redemption, forgiveness and integrity with God. I will concentrate on Gem of the Ocean, the lone drama in which we see Aunt Ester on phase, but in order to acquire a full motive and driving forces of the character I will work with the whole rhythm of dramas and peculiarly with the other dramas where she is mentioned.
By puting Aunt Ester on phase, August Wilson sends us on the escapade into African American history and the agony of African Americans at the beginning of the twentieth century. We start our journey from Gem of the Ocean, set in 1904, which brings us, every bit good as the characters of the rhythm, to Aunt Ester ‘s house. The characters are merely off the route of the Great Migration, when people fled from the South to the North in the hunt of a better hereafter, off from repression, economic troubles, and racism. It is their 2nd route, the first being the Middle Passage path in 1619 with the first slave ship to America, and these black Americans eventually hope to settle and organize a community, but the strivings of the yesteryear can non quiet them and the characters set on a new path- to the house of Aunt Ester, who helps them happen their cultural individuality by throwing off the physical and religious bonds of bondage. The route does non halt even in her house, for they set off on a new journey, back to their yesteryear, to the dead ascendants of City of Bones. Aunt Ester together with the other characters sets on going between Africa and America, the yesteryear and the present, and at that minute we hear a knock on her dooraˆ¦ .
Aunt Ester as a Savior of Cultural Identity through African Culture
Born to Daisy Wilson, an African American adult female and Frederick August Kittel, a German male parent, Wilson in an interview with Bill Moyers confessed: “ The cultural environment of my life, the forces that have shaped me, the nurturing, the acquisition, have all been black thoughts about the universe that I learned from my female parent ” ( Bryer, Introduction, xi ) . Having grown up in African American environment and with African American cultural looks, August Wilson ever claimed the difference of African American civilization from a white dominant society ‘s cultural look. The dramatist was sad at seeing the denial of black adult male ‘s civilization, humanistic disciplines, looks, that he connected to the denial of their African American histories and cultural individuality.
In composing his Twentieth Cycle of dramas, August Wilson pursued several purposes in the domain of African American civilization. First of wholly, he wanted to reconstruct African civilization among African American people with its profusion of linguistic communication, music, common people traditions, imposts, art, and beliefs, and poses a figure of inquiries for his readers to believe about what it means to be African Americans, former slaves, in freed America. What is the function of cultural memory in the rhythm? How do the characters acknowledge their bondage past and their African beginning? How is their Africanness expressed in art? Second, as Trudier Harris sees it, Wilson used common people tradition, music, beating, African dance in his rhythm for the intent of “ Africanizing the audience ” ( 53 ) , to demo the white audience the distinctive feature of African American cultural tendencies and to proof that African civilization is non worse than in the white people ‘s universe, and that ‘s why should be respected. And thirdly, he wanted to convey back the cultural individuality to African Americans. To carry through these intents, and besides to give an reply about the value of African civilization in the lives of African Americans, the civilization that has been denied for a long period of clip, August Wilson created his cryptic, historical Aunt Ester.
Having been brought some three hundred old ages ago to America as slaves, African Americans have non lost the apprehension of their curious personality, “ each coevals carefully instructed the following in all that could be remembered of the familial cognition ” ( Small, 125 ) . The same is seen in the character Aunt Ester, who got her preparation of the African universe position from Ester Tyler, an ascendant who has accumulated and saved rich musical, dancing, unwritten and religious tradition for the subsequent coevalss. I see Aunt Ester ‘s passing on the cognition of African American civilization to the following coevals as a status of giving them their cultural individuality.
What happened to the cultural individuality of African Americans? As seen from the character Aunt Ester, African Americans came to the new land with their African spiritualty that has been subdued by slave proprietor. Furthermore, African civilization encountered with European civilization, the cultural clang raising the ‘part ‘ civilization, as Homi K. Bhabha calls it ( 54 ) . The cultural individuality of African Americans shifted into western side. Even though Aunt Ester preserves the history of African American civilization, which manifests itself in her vocalizing, rites, mending procedures, unwritten tradition, industrial society of the North implies on her Western-style faith, as in fact she is seen in Gem of the Ocean to talk about Christian God. However, she can non be rejected as a carrier of African American civilization and traditions, who holding survived bondage, carries the cultural individuality of all African Americans of the rhythm.
The cultural individuality is in many facets of August Wilson ‘s rhythm ; it is in the rites of Aunt Ester, in the working of metal and the Juba dance in Joe Turner ‘s Come and Gone, in beating in the rhythm, in the devising of musical instruments with carving on them as in The Piano Lesson, in the edifice of Aunt Ester ‘s house with the engravings of ascendants in Radio Golf, in the community of Hill District through the whole rhythm, in cover and Aunt Ester ‘s unwritten tradition in Gem of the Ocean, in ritual marker of faces with blood and pigment in Two Trains Runing and Radio Golf, and of class, in musical and dancing traditions in Gem of the Ocean and the rhythm in general. In this portion of my thesis I would wish to look at the character Aunt Ester who gives cultural individuality to other characters of the rhythm by analysing these and some other facets of cultural individuality mentioned in Wilson ‘s rhythm.
It should be noted that August Wilson ‘s Aunt Ester comes from the dramatist ‘s involvement in African civilization, which began of class from his female parent ‘s beliefs and traditions, but was intensified with the captivation of the blues, with its star Bessie Smith, and the pictures of Romare Bearden who drew the life of African Americans Sung in the blues vocals. As stressed by the character Aunt Ester and the other characters of the rhythm the music of the blues became peculiarly of import for Wilson as this music mixes the African unwritten and musical tradition of black Americans in its vocals and therefore unites all the African Americans of his dramas and establishes their individualism.
The influence of Romare Bearden and Bessie Smith on Wilson ‘s plant is enormous. In the Foreword to Romare Bearden: His Life and Art August Wilson remarks on the blues: “ I discovered Bessie Smith and the blues. It was a watershed event on my life. It gave me a history. It provided me with a cultural response to the universe… .I set out on a continual hunt for ways to give look to the religious urge of the Afro-american civilization which had nurtured and sanctioned my life and finally provided it with its significance ” ( 8 ) . Aunt Ester ‘s visual aspect in Wilson ‘s rhythm provides the same map: she is the history of African Americans, she is the voice of cultural values and beauty, and she is the religious adviser of the community who shapes the single beat of Wilson ‘s characters into a united beat of the group.
Aunt Ester is created by August Wilson from pieces of different stuff: Africa, America, bondage, the South, the North, racism, civilization, ascendants, etc, merely like the pictures of Romare Bearden that had a important impact on his artistic thought and the manner of looking at art: “ I called to my bravery and entered the universe of Romare Bearden and found a universe made in my image. A universe of flesh and musculus and blood and bone and fire. A universe made of garbages of paper, of line and mass and signifier and form and coloraˆ¦.until it gave back something in kinshipaˆ¦the colossal leftovers of a spirit tested through clip and the storm and the cilium ” ( 9 ) . It comes clear that the blues and the art of Romare Bearden changes Wilson ‘s thought and facilitated his creative activity of the character Aunt Ester, a character surrounding on enigma, medicine adult female, a conjure adult female, the senior of the community, promoting the pattern of communal demands with Christian values, naming to her community with the outlook of a response from them.
Furthermore, August Wilson ‘s Aunt Ester is made of the supernatural and the mysterious, as a representative of the spirit universe, which stresses the African manifestation and African spiritualty of the character. The thought of enigma, myth, unreality, and magic the dramatist took from an Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges, who had much influence on his plants and made him “ a author non of America but of the intercultural Americas ” ( Rocha, 14 ) . Connecting Africa and America, Wilson ‘s Aunt Ester can exceed clip and infinite, doing regular journeys into the bloody yesteryear to the City of Bones, and besides going among the dramas of the rhythm, supplying the affinity of all characters. Aunt Ester with her connexion to the elements proves an African thought of integrity with nature, which is typical of African American cultural individuality. The characters besides portion their cultural individuality by sharing the memory of bondage with other ascendants in the City of Bones. There is besides the charming flowing of 20 dollars from the Monongahela River in the way of Aunt Ester, as a payment for happening cultural individuality.
I would wish to concentrate on music and dance, that are considered the best agencies of constructing African cultural individuality as both signifiers “ give the single his or her cherished sense of uniqueness, of worth, of topographic point in the strategy of things, and mediate relationships, Teach duties and show chances ” ( Small, 120 ) . The thought of cultural individuality as connected with the state ‘s music has been expressed by several researches: Simon Frith, Bhabha K. Homi, Mark Slobin, John Miller Chernoff, etc. Harmonizing to Simon Frith “ musicaˆ¦stands for, symbolizes and offers the immediate experience of corporate individuality ” ( 121 ) , and in Wilson ‘s rhythm music welcomes African Americans into sharing their African American cultural corporate experience. Frith farther remarks: “ Music seems to be a cardinal to individuality because it offersaˆ¦a sense of both egos and others, of the subjective in the corporate ” ( 110 ) . Based on this thought, August Wilson ‘s rhythm so provides one of the cardinal subjects, that is expressed in the personality of Aunt Ester, and viz. , that African Americans can non understand their beginnings and show themselves to the full when they are entirely. Aunt Ester encourages that the connexion and relationships with the community gives the African Americans apprehension of themselves, or self-identity, which is besides cultural individuality as they realize their belonging to the group of other African Americans.
Music provides the conditions for cultural memory and individuality. Aunt Ester and other Wilson ‘s characters got their cultural traditions from slave plantations where they invented labour vocals showing the sorrow and hurting of bondage to ease their work, the vocals that would subsequently develop into the blues, as in Ma Rainey ‘s Black Bottom. Music, art and civilization was the lone means for African Americans non to lose their cultural individuality in the white oppressive society. Shane White and Graham White write about African Americans: “ Rejecting ratings of themselves by white society, they made strong ocular statements about their individuality and worth, and, free of white inadvertence and control, displayed the cultural signifiers that allowed them to exceed, for a clip, the rough fortunes of their mundane lives ” ( 179 ) . By seting African civilization, music, dancing in the rhythm, Wilson wants to give voice to his characters and attach them to their roots, and Aunt Ester, the incarnation of all African American history and cultural tradition is the best voice of August Wilson, singing the vocal of raising African Americans ‘ historical consciousness and transfusing them with cultural individuality.
Aunt Ester together with the other characters in the rhythm takes up steps to reconstruct cultural individuality and continue African civilization in America by her musical tradition. Aunt Ester sings, “ Oh, now is a destitute clip O Lord wo n’t you come by here ” ( Gem of the Ocean, 86 ) , which is a symbolic call of Aunt Ester to get the strength of going the warrior for continuing the African heritage of her people and their cultural individuality. Ma Rainey helps her in the undertaking besides fighting for the endurance of their civilization in Ma Rainey ‘s Black Bottom. In the desire to avoid racism in the domain of civilization and humanistic disciplines, to uncover the difference of white and black cultural inclinations, and to indicate out at their remarkable cultural individuality Ma Rainey tells: “ White folks do n’t understand about the blues. They hear it come out, but they do n’t cognize how it got at that place. They do n’t understand that ‘s life ‘s manner of speaking ” ( 66 ) . The demand for African civilization and geting cultural individuality arises in The Piano Lesson with Berniece ‘s call for hereditary aid, among whom is Aunt Ester.
Aunt Ester, whose vocalizing is natural, remembers her slavery period and the power of singing to salve herself, “ I merely started singing. Just singing softly to myself the some song my female parent had taught me. After that it was all right for a small piece ” ( Gem of the Ocean, 55 ) . Aunt Ester who sings the vocal of her female parent every bit good as Bynum who sings the vocal of his male parent incorporate the African cultural component in the rhythm, connect the characters to one another in their hurting, love and memory, and proclaim the importance of continuing one ‘s civilization and traditions.
Aunt Ester ‘s vocalizing, as an facet of cultural individuality, has a connecting map ; it links the characters to one another and makes for a creative activity of a community. When Aunt Ester is singing in Gem of the Ocean, she is ever surrounded by other people, who accompany her vocalizing in the desire to be a integrity. These are their shared vocals where they portion the same corporate individuality, as seen in Solly Two Kings ‘s vocal ” I Belong to the Band ” ( Gem of the Ocean, 12 ) that he sings upon come ining Aunt Ester ‘s house as he portions the same cultural individuality with the remainder of characters. There is a similar suggestion in Joe Turner ‘s Come and Gone when the characters manifest their cultural individuality in sharing Juba dance.
Musical tradition in Gem of the Ocean and in the rhythm in general gives non merely cultural individuality to the African Americans but besides a opportunity for their redemption. In the vocalizing on the journey to the City of Bones in Gem of the Ocean, in Berniece ‘s vocalizing in The Piano Lesson and during the rapture of vocalizing and Juba dance in Joe Turner ‘s Come and Gone, we feel the allowing out of bad energy accumulated during the period of cryings and strivings of bondage, as the actions are full of zest and enthusiasm. Under the influence of Aunt Ester, a music director of a Hill District orchestra, many characters in the rhythm seem to be happy when singing because they are interrelated to their households and communities, as the vocals in August Wilson ‘s rhythm provide the history of households and communities as a portion of the whole African American history of bondage, and besides connect people, like it does Bynum who has a Binding Song ( Joe Turner ‘s Come and Gone, 16 ) . In Gem of the Ocean, music as African cultural manifestation means a call of African Americans suppressed by bondage towards freedom and acts as the initial measure in geting redemption, accomplishing peace and the integrity with the others in the community under the shelter of common cultural individuality.
August Wilson ‘s use of common people tradition and music in his rhythm provides the connexion to the cultural individuality and helps the dramatist adapt Christian faith to the demands of African American people. His City of Bones ‘ image mingles Christianity with African folklore and mythology, as the cogent evidence of cultural clang upon the reaching of Africans to America. On the one manus, it is fabulous, unaccountable to the perceptual experience of the existent universe from the European point of position. On the other manus, as the topographic point between this universe and the underworld, it provides a connexion to Christian symbolism in the rhythm and African American worldview on the interconnectedness of the life and the dead. Aunt Ester ‘s journeys to the otherworldly topographic point, where Citizen sees ascendants ‘ agony from the loss of their God, speaks for the great convulsion in the history of African Americans and the loss of a great figure of people during the Middle Passage.
Through his character Aunt Ester, who is a Jesus of African civilization, August Wilson frames supernatural and cryptic phenomena in the common people tradition of the rhythm non merely as an African American cultural component that provides cultural individuality of African Americans but besides every bit historical. Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean is seen singing:
Aunt Ester ( Singing ) : You made it back
Eli, Solly and Black Mary ( Singing ) : Back from the City of Bones
Aunt Ester ( Singing ) : You made it back
Eli, Solly and Black Mary ( Singing ) : You came from the City of Bones ( 73 ) ,
the vocal, which speaks about the endurance of African Americans under the subjugation of American racism due to the re-acknowledging of their ascendants ‘ yesteryear and the support and aid of their African American community. The vocal discloses the position of black Americans on the nexus to their rites as a agency of salvaging their individualities and psyches. By retrieving the past indicated by the City of Bones an African American can do it back, can happen redemption and survive merely if he or she returns to the community.
Looking closer to the above mentioned song, we can see that Wilson ‘s music, as African music in general, is characterized by “ a call-and-response ” , a agency of geting corporate individuality, when every member of the community gets involved into music, “ everyone plays a portion in the rhythmic field, either by lending calls and calls, clapping, stomping, or drummingaˆ¦.each individual is therefore engaged in happening a topographic point within the group ” ( Caponi, 11 ) . Aunt Ester unites the African Americans in their cultural tradition of musicalness, and cultural individuality of everyone being capable to lend to the communal music-making.
Aunt Ester helps African Americans find their cultural individuality in the community by unifying them in the rhythmic form of African music. We see that beat is outstanding in Aunt Ester ‘s vocalizing through Gem of the Ocean, which resembles the drumming form at times. John Miller Chernoff, who studied beating in Ghana for approximately 10 old ages, speaks about beating and African music as a “ cultural activity which reveals a group of people forming and affecting themselves with their ain communal relationshipsaˆ¦on the procedures of life together ” ( 36 ) . As a cultural uniting component and the bosom of African civilization and African community, drumming is sometimes performed by Wilson ‘s characters, the act that was prohibited by slave proprietors but preserved by African Americans in the signifier of beat. Therefore, we see the drumming on the tabular array in The Piano Lesson and in Joe Turner ‘s Come and Gone where the power of beating speaks the linguistic communication of Africa. In Gem of the Ocean the characters are non beating physically, though their poetic linguistic communication and the beat of their cantabile really much resembles beating:
Solly ( Singing ) : I got a place in the cemetery.
Eli and Black Mary ( Singing ) : Remember me.
Solly ( Singing ) : Traveling down to the cemetery.
Eli and Black Mary ( Singing ) : Remember me.
Solly ( Singing ) : Traveling down to the cemetery.
Eli and Black Mary ( Singing ) : Remember meaˆ¦ ( 68 ) .
Drumming, which is closely connected to the rhythmic form of African American music, is one more facet conveying back the cultural individuality of African Americans and connects them to their history. The fact that the characters do n’t play existent membranophones in Gem of the Ocean and other dramas, but are still capable of doing music and create beat, speaks for their flexibleness, “ the adaptability and strength of an African ‘s sense of community and personal individuality ” ( Chernoff, 156 ) . Drumming is a powerful agencies to get cultural individuality.
Through beating the characters of the rhythm are connected together, and this helps make an African American community. Because all of the characters in the rhythm semen from an African corporate type of life, as an African cultural facet the sense of community is of premier importance to them. By picturing the Hill District community, with Aunt Ester in it, the dramatist urges black people towards being communal and non single, towards halting for a minute to look at the sky and to portion the feelings with others from the community ; he besides insists on the saving of African elements on the American land, that of speaking, dancing and singing as a manner to continue their cultural individuality. August Wilson stresses that merely in your ain community, non in a white group one can “ acquire to [ the ] centre ” ( Radio Golf, 79 ) , while in the white work forces ‘s universe “ it ‘s all a house of cards. Everything resting on a slender border ” ( 79 ) .
Aunt Ester is the best representative of African American cultural individuality through her unwritten tradition. Having been sold into bondage in the South, she is a symbolic reminder of the art and memories born in southern provinces of America[ 1 ]. As person who has survived through all the history of African Americans, she is endowed by August Wilson with the profusion of verbal looks and common people wisdom. Aunt Ester is a great narrator, which brings back the thought that unwritten tradition is preponderantly African ; even one of the Proverbs in Africa claims that “ The oral cavity is the wireless sender of the African ” ( Mbiti, 9 ) . She is a fantastic manifestation of African unwritten civilization that helps her to link other characters in the rhythm to African unwritten tradition and therefore gives them their cultural individuality, and in fact, we see that many of them besides have narratives to narrate to their hearers.
Her unwritten every bit good as singing tradition is besides rhythmic, resembles beating and is characterized by a “ call-and-response ” . Aunt Ester ‘s description of a ship is a good illustration of her musicalness of address: “ A boat is made out of a batch of things. Wood and rope. The sails expression like bedsheets blowing in the air current. They make a catch when the air currents catch them. Wood and rope and Fe. The workingmans with their cocks pealing. A boat is something. It takes a batch of work forces to do a boat. And it takes a batch of work forces to sail a boat ” ( underline mine, Gem of the Ocean, 66 ) . Although the whole address is hers, we can clearly separate the “ call-and-response ” consequence, which is typical of African American music, as an component representing their cultural individuality. We besides see its rhythmic theoretical account, when the words that I underlined are repeated to make a sense of integrity, harmoniousness and beat of her address, to emphasize the difference of European and African construct of musicalness, as a distinguished constituent of African American cultural individuality.
Cultural individuality is besides expressed in the rhythm ‘s engravings. The carvings of ascendants on the household piano in The Piano Lesson and in Aunt Ester ‘s house in Radio Golf analogues Basil Davidson ‘s adverting about the carvings of ascendants as a place for their liquors, practiced as tribal sculpture tradition in Africa ( 153 ) . Wilson ‘s engravings serve the map of uncovering the power of African American line of descent in the community, and through the common ascendant Aunt Ester ( Harry Elam,185 ) reinforce the connexion of African Americans to one another and unify them in their roots and individuality. As portion of cultural individuality and African American civilization Aunt Ester is linked to African American ascendants, which is expressed on her frequent journeys into the City of Bones, where the bygone call for memory. Aunt Ester ‘s communicating with ascendants expresses the general belief of African Americans in the nexus between the life with the bygone and unborn.
Aunt Ester comes from African civilization with its tradition of allowing the clip flow easy, which is a portion of African American cultural individuality. She gives black Americans a sense of individuality by sharing an African sense of clip. Richard Jenkins argues that “ clip is of import in procedures of designation because of the continuity whichaˆ¦is entailed in a claim to, or an ascription of, individuality ” ( 27 ) . In Gem of the Ocean and other dramas people of the community come to Aunt Ester ‘s “ peaceable ” house to loosen up, to be treated to some nutrient, to state the latest intelligence and to inquire advice. Time in the house seems to halt, and cipher is in a haste. We see that the work forces of the rhythm are sitting and speaking about the present and past times, “ really non wasting clip, but either waiting for clip or in the procedure of ‘producing ‘ clip ” ( Smith, Notes, 243 ) . In their connexion to the shared yesteryear and nowadays in the house of Aunt Ester helps them determine their cultural individuality and do them harmonious, which is shattered one time the house is about to be destroyed in Radio Golf killing the African American tradition of disbursement clip easy as portion of African civilization.
In King Hedley II Aunt Ester dies, and one of the grounds for her decease can be the inability to convey the linguistic communication of African civilization in a community that stopped sing her. Aunt Ester sees that the displacement in cultural individuality occurred, and she dies with a sense of acute solitariness from being useless, as she prophesies in Gem of the Ocean, “ I told myself I ‘m gon na decease from solitariness ” ( 21 ) . Aunt Ester ‘s gatekeeper Mr. Eli says that Aunt Ester died from heartache ( King Hedley II, 21 ) . Barbara Lewis thinks that Aunt Ester dies from letdown over the forgetfulness of her kids ( 145 ) . Sandra Shannon claims that “ her physical going signals the oncoming of complete prostration of the universe around her ” and sees in her decease “ the erasure of history and the remotion of the medium that conveys that history ” ( 2010, 126 ) . Aunt Ester dies and carries with her the memory of African spiritualty, African American musical tradition and civilization that passed from coevals to coevals, the efforts to transfuse African Americans with hope, joy and pride of being African, to do them portion their cultural individuality.
But African civilization and cultural individuality does non decease with Aunt Ester. At the terminal of King Hedley II we hear Stool Pigeon ‘s vocalizing as a symbolic call for Aunt Ester in the subsequent dramas of August Wilson ‘s rhythm. And in Radio Golf, the call seems to be answered as first Sterling, and so Harmond Wilks mark their faces with the pigment in the manner African warriors do, as a mark of rebelliousness to the other African Americans who decide to populate harmonizing to the jurisprudence of Whites, wholly declining their African heritage. It is a symbolic mark of the impossibleness of traveling frontward without their African spiritualty, African vocals, dances, and dominant traditions of African civilization, everything that constitutes their cultural individuality. As August Wilson point out, “ Africa remains a permeant force, a sort of psychic balm available to 20th-century inkinesss through blues vocals, communal dances, tall narratives ” ( Freedman, 36 ) , and the dramatist hopes his voice of reconstructing and preserving of African American will be heard.
August Wilson besides wishes that African Americans will maintain forming communities, each person lending to it, and maintain themselves united with African traditions of vocalizing, dancing, unwritten traditions, etc. He expressed a hope that single and communal demands will be balanced which will supply a sound cultural individuality to them. He playwright asserts that whatever the troubles are African American can last under the shelter of their strong spirit, community that supports them, and rich African civilization passed to them by their ascendants. African civilization and integrity helped them in the period of bondage and will assist in the hereafter if they do n’t bury it. To encompass the collective is really of import for endurance and for happening their cultural individuality.
August Wilson was non the lone 1 who demanded to look at African American literature and in peculiar, African American theatre, in the context of African American civilization, concentrating on its musical, unwritten traditions, storytelling, etc. August Wilson ‘s theatre is a good platform from where cultural, societal and political issues are discussed. His theatre gives freedom of look for African Americans, unifying in their spiritualty and cultural individuality that has been denied to them during the period of bondage. August Wilson worked together with the other voices of African American literature, like Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, etc. , who besides pay considerable attending to African American cultural singularity and profusion in their plants.