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Posted December 16, 2007
I loved August Wilson's Seven Guitars. It is a great illustration of black life in America. It was also my first time actually completing reading one of August Wilson's dramas. I had been hearing a lot a about and how a lot of praise was heaped upon him. As i read this play i found out why! Peep this: the play begins with the characters coming home from the funeral of Floyd 'Schoolboy' Barton, who was an up-and-coming blues singer and musician who was murdered (we will later find out that one of the characters killed him over some money). The play then goes back in time to the events leading up to the murder. We meet Floyd Barton and learn more about him. We are also introduced to the characters of Vera, his girlfriend, whom he left to go off with another woman named Pearl Brown when he went to Chicago to record his song 'That's Alright' which became a hit Red Carter and Canewell, two members of his band Hedley, a mentally impaired man who dreams of being a 'big man' Louise, the landlady and sort of 'big sister' figure to Vera who warns her of taking Floyd back, and Ruby, Louise's promiscuous 24-going on 25-year old niece who is a few weeks pregnant whom all the men take an immediate liking to--or more over, lust after. When we first meet Floyd, he is in talks with music producers about recording another song after the success of 'That's Alright.' He wants to mend the relationship he had with Vera and wants her to go with him to Chicago, but Vera is having doubts about his motives, whether he is coming back to her because Pearl left him or whether he really wants her back. He also has to convince both his bandmembers, Red Carter, who carries a gun, and Canewell, who carries a knife, to come with him to make the record, but they are having second thoughts as well. Floyd, like many black men in today, being how the play still resonates today as it did 12 years ago, feels like he has stalemated in life and that every where he tries to go, every positive step he tries to make, there is somebody blocking him from making that move that he feels is necessary and at some point he says that he is tired of it and he is going to get those people out of the way, even if he has to kill someone (irony, isn't it?). We also go on to find out that Hedley is a man who seeks forgiveness from his father for 'talking back' to him if you will. (Hint: Watch for the scene in which Hedley slices the rooster's throat the rooster is symbol of the black man.) The characters, while in the backyard of Louise's boardinghouse, will talk and argue about everything to whether Jesus bringing Lazarus back was a good thing (Hedley the affirmative and Canewell the negative, stating that Lazarus was free when he died and to come back from the dead he would have to come back and live this harsh life again) to whether a knife is better than a gun (Canewell says a knife will never go out of style). Like The Known World by Edward P. Jones, I didn't have a favorite character because I feel that everybody had a brilliantly developed story. I also loved the very simple and natural language of the characters. A very interesting and shocking parable on the plight of the black man.
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