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August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson (1987) is a play which deals with the social life of a broken African American family in Pittsburg – a city in Pennsylvania – who migrated from the South. The family’s grandparents, who were slaves on a Southern plantation, were separated and exchanged with a piano. This shocking incident causes cross-generational trauma and other traumatic incidents for the family as they retrieved the piano. This study examines the play through the lens of Literary Trauma Theory. This theory appeared in the middle of 1990s, henceforth it has been developed by so many scholars, and the latest revision is made by Joshua Pederson, an Associate Professor of Humanities at Boston University, in 2014. The first wave of the theorists claim that trauma causes amnesia for the victims; they can neither remember nor describe what they have experienced, but Pederson in his revised edition of the theory proves the opposite. By applying the latest version of trauma theory this study shows how slavery, its aftermath or its legacy affected and haunted African Americans, and created trauma or historical trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the African Americans.
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