Joe Turner's Come and Gone: Healing Through Storytelling: A Journey of Belonging and Loss in August Wilson's “Joe Turner's Come and Gone” - August Wilson

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Joe Turner's Come and Gone: Healing Through Storytelling: A Journey of Belonging and Loss in August Wilson's “Joe Turner's Come and Gone”
August Wilson

In August Wilson's poignant drama "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," storytelling is transformed into a potent means of fostering healing and harmony. The drama explores the lives of African Americans coping with the legacy of slavery, displacement, and the quest for belonging. It is set in a Pittsburgh boardinghouse in 1911.

The boardinghouse, which is populated by people with a variety of experiences and backgrounds, serves as a miniature representation of the Black community. Every person has their own wounds from the past, be it the psychological and physical anguish of slavery or the heartbreaking death of a loved one.

Storytelling becomes a critical thread that unites the characters in this context and provides them with a means of healing. They start to comprehend one another's difficulties through their shared experiences and find comfort in one another's company.

Herald Loomis is one such figure who perfectly captures the transforming potential of narrative. His story of being sold and being cut off from his family provides him with catharsis. He is initially portrayed as a tortured man haunted by his history. His openness acts as a spark for others to do the same, fostering forgiveness and healing on a group level.

The play also looks at the idea of belonging, emphasizing how people yearn for a feeling of connection and home even in the face of uncertainty and dislocation. Numerous characters, including Martha Holly and Seth, are plagued by the loss or sale of loved ones. Their testimonies illustrate the lasting longing for connection and the severe effects of forced separation.

But "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" is more than just a nostalgia song. It also honors the Black community's tenacity and optimism. The characters find comfort in their common ancestry and gain strength from their shared experiences. Storytelling becomes a means for them to take back their past and create a new identity in a difficult world.

The title of the piece, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," captures this contrast between hope and tragedy. It alludes to a legendary character who makes the wish that people would be reunited with their loved ones; this represents the desire for healing and connection. Even though the play acknowledges the ongoing suffering of the past, it concludes by offering the audience hope and optimism—that is, that people can overcome even the most severe losses—by sharing their experiences and rallying their community.

To sum up, August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" provides a deeply poignant examination of the storytelling medium's ability to comfort those experiencing grief and displacement. The drama reminds us that even in the middle of darkness, there is always place for healing, belonging, and hope through its vivid dialogue and rich cast of people.