Reading King Hedley II was the foremost painful and wrenching of August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays for me to expertise, and that I anticipate to seeing it! although it takes place in Pittsburgh, Washington DC throughout the Crack years is claimed to be its inspiration. purportedly when Wilson visited there he was therefore afraid that he stayed in his hotel room. King Hedley II right away followed Seven Guitars once it was written and premiered, and there are vital connections: Ruby, a fly young lady in her late 20s was the niece of Louise. She is currently 65 years old with a 35 year-old son, King Hedley II, named after his assumed father, King Hedley, who killed Floyd with a knife in Seven Guitars.
Canewell in Seven Guitars became Stool pigeon because he gave the police info regarding Floyd’s killing; both Leroy the biological father of King, and Elmore, the 2 suitors of Ruby before she arrived in the city of Pittsburgh from Alabama were mentioned in Seven Guitars; Elmore had killed Leroy , and young Ruby wasn’t positive which one was the biological father of the baby she was carrying. She let the older King Hedley think he was the biological father. King Hedley II with no father or step-father changes the father-son conflict of Wilson’s plays. Instead there is the absence of a father for King that drives the father-son conflict. King Hedley I died when King was 3 years old, and he never knew his biological father Leroy.
There is pain in Wilson’s plays that sometimes feels unneeded. The humor can be as pungent, countervailing the upcoming tragedies; Jitney has a number of the funniest exchanges in the Cycle, and Boy Willie in the Piano Lesson!. However joy is distressed, squeezed through pressures with sorrowful finalities that make it hard to determine the hopes of the characters. There are grim turns that cause wonder and ask for alternatives to the pain. Don’t those alternatives exist within the Black community, in family interactions that don’t seem to be overwhelmed or distracted by racism? Is there too much settling on the negative, are all Black dreams deferred?
Wilson’s concluding use of and the context for death within the Cycle is one of his hallmarks. Its role and occurrence contains a punctuating effect as death does in life. Seven Guitars starts with the discussion of angels taking a soul to heaven at a memorial, that was actually Floyd’s who is to die later. That became apparent once those angels were lifting Floyd’s soul when he’s killed in the end. The Cycle’s death are often abrupt and tragic, the violent deaths were Blacks by Blacks, though 2 of these deaths were indirectly caused by the actions of whites, with 2 deaths because of age or an unspecified illness. Early in King Hedley II aunt Esther, the mother queen of the Cycle, dies at the age of 366. By dying in 1985 she was born in 1619, the first year that a documented African arrived within the continental United States, a year before the pilgrims’ arrival; therefore her life spanned the time that Africans came here, and before the Puritans.
Aunt Esther’s death is devastating, a harbinger of despair.They say her death came from grief, looking back at the the fragmentation of the Black community throughout the upheavals and voids of the Seventies. King tells of being given a key ring without a key by Aunt Esther. Stool pigeon, who is one amongst Wilson’s poetic spiritualists, his discerning “Out” brothers, says that King must notice the key to put onto it. Those spiritual/Out characters don’t have the central, binding spirituality of aunt Esther. In a sense they’re additional earthly, human; Aunt Esther’s spirituality is a rising affectionate sanctity with powers. As King Hedley II develops, it’s very evident that violence is going to happen. There are multiple weapons: King’s 9 mm Glock, Elmore’s Smith & Wesson 38 Special, a pistol that changes hands 3 times, ending up in Ruby’s possession; Mister’s 9 mm Beretta, and lastly, the now-rusted machete knife King Hedley I used to kill Floyd that Stool pigeon gives to King.
King killed a person named Pernell before the story takes place because he scarred King’s face with a razor, and Pernell’s cousin is in town searching for revenge. King’s response is to load his Glock and look for the relative. He did 7 years for Pernell’s murder, and since his release has been involved in in low-level and occasionally a violent crime. A preparation intensity that Wilson therefore effectively creates is that Elmore, Ruby’s long-time off-and-on lover, the killer of Leroy who was King’s biological father, really wants to tell King that he killed Leroy. This generates a strong undercurrent with a terrible complexity. Fatality is inevitable, the question is who is next and by whom? We have Pernell’s cousin trying to find King, and visa-versa; King and his Ace, Mister, pull a robbery; Elmore versus King another possibility; Ruby has the gun, that mister gave to her once he bought it from Elmore; In the meantime, King has cleaned and sharpened King Hedley I’s knife.
Although King and Mister are susceptible to violence and crime, they’re not as narcissistic as Elmore. Even when King and his wife Tonya fight, he desires stability by establishing a video store and having a family; once Tonya wants to have an abortion, King ferociously expresses his desire to have a baby, seeing it adding a positive element to his life. Elmore has continuously been gambling, lying, cheating, manipulating. His killing of Leroy he twists to make him appear justified and innocent, and his wanting to tell King the reality is motivated by rationalized self-interest. Eveyone’s interaction and deal is fake, from the pretend jewelry that he gives to Ruby, or the gun that he sells to Mister. Before his entrance there’s a discussion about a broken watch that he sold to King.
Due to his age and his relationship with Ruby, he would nearly be a “father,” however, instead he’s the anti-father. Elmore, once proposing to Ruby along with her accepting it, in a series of sorrowful dialogues he detailedly describe how he shot Leroy , his feelings of denial and numbness after the killing, and Ruby tells how she had to recognize his body. Ignoring Ruby’s pleas, Elmore erupts with the reality of King’s paternity. King leaves to go to his late wife Neesi’s grave then decides on how to avenge and settle his father Leroy’s accounts by paying the fifty dollars that Elmore says Leroy owed him. He begins a dice duel with Elmore. Mister insists that King let him shield his back and King refuses.
The dice duel and earlier parleys on the costs of hot items, guns, gambling, or the value of fake jewelry, are chilling arithmetics that measure degrees of “manhood,” however one ought to be paid back, or what constitutes justification for shooting someone’s face off. King or Elmore might kill the other: throughout the duel King pulls the knife on Elmore then stops, and Elmore pulls his gun on King then not wanting to kill him. Ruby runs into the house (the play takes place in the backyards of 2 homes and an empty lot) screaming “Elmore!” And once Ruby comes back from the house and King turns to her, crying “Mama!” She unwittingly shoots him in the throat with the pistol. This recalls the death of Floyd in Seven Guitars, whose throat was slit, shortly after he robbed a store, like King; both were looking towards exploitation the hold-up money to move out, Floyd plans to take his girlfriend Vera, and King, Tonya.