Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Esaki, Brett J.

Second Advisor

McClymond, Kathryn

Third Advisor

Shannon, Sandra G.


In many of his plays, August Wilson uses religious influences from Africa and from Western Christianity to depict the dichotomy between Black people in America and White people in America. In The Piano Lesson Wilson explores these themes in greater detail and, through an elaborate carving on a piano, shows how the combining of traditional African religions with a westernized version of Christianity can create a uniquely African American experience and expression of religion and spirituality. This thesis discusses the religious integration found in The Piano Lesson and argues that the Charles family ancestors are active agents with decision-making authority regarding the piano, their ancestral burial grounds.