by August Wilson
Act One (11-60)
- What is a jitney?
- What are Becker's rules? (Note the number of ways
that Becker's Rules have started to come apart among the jitney
drivers. What other social institutions are fraying under the stress of
- Describe the characters who appear in Scene One. What
do we find out about them over the course of the twelve hours enacted
in the first half of the play?
- Even though this play only has nine characters in it,
the whole Hill District in Pittsburgh bustles off stage with countless
characters who come to life in the stories the jitney drivers tell.
That's good playwriting. Describe the following off-stage characters
and the places where they hang out. What portrait of the neighborhood
is Wilson presenting?
- Pope and his new Buick Impala
- Shealy's girls: Rosie and that 'that little yellow
- The Workingman's Club (where Kenny Fisher is playing)
- Mr. Pease (Pittsburgh Urban Renewal Council)
- Old Lady McNeil's son:
- Becker's wife, Lucille:
- Shealy's nephew (who hangs with Jenkin's boy):
- Cigar Annie
- Crazy Jasper:
- Think about the particular day on which August Wilson
has chosen to set the action of his play. This is not any day.
- Today's the day that Becker will announce to his
drivers that the Urban Renewal is moving in, he's moving out, and he's
not sure that he wants to keep the business going.
- Today's the day that Fielding finally gets himself
- Today's the day that the feud between Youngblood and
Turnbo breaks wide open.
- Today's the day that Rena confronts Youngblood with
her suspicions about his running around with Peaches.
- Today's the day that Becker's boy, Booster, gets out
of prison and comes home to meet his father.
- As you read Jitney, think about the ways that August
Wilson is weaving the different strands of action together to build
- What has pushed Turnbo over the edge today? (Look at
his rant about respect. (30-31)) What does he tell Rena?
- Why has Rena run out of patience with Youngblood?
What was the straw which broke the camel's back for her? (32-35)
- Why is Becker thinking about giving up after the city
let him know that they were gonna board up the place the first of the
- Who did Booster kill? Why? (39)
- How does the fight between Youngblood and Turnbo
break out? (43)
- Describe the way Becker functions in this
neighborhood: what makes his presence essential?
- How does Fielding get himself fired? (51) Who does he
dream about twenty years later? (53)
- Becker and Booster:
- Re-read Turnbo's story about how Becker's boy wound
up in prison. (40-41)
- Then re-read the confrontation between Becker and
Thesis: How are the strands of the
action inter-related? (ie, is it just an accident that each of these
thunderheads breaks simultaneously?)
Paragraph: Think about the
contrasting strategies of Booker Washington and Malcolm X. Which
response to racism does Wilson support?