Two Trains Running: A Community on the Tracks: Navigating Hope, Hardship, and Dreams in August Wilson's “Two Trains Running” - August Wilson

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

Two Trains Running: A Community on the Tracks: Navigating Hope, Hardship, and Dreams in August Wilson's “Two Trains Running”
August Wilson

The colorful drama "Two Trains Running" by August Wilson depicts a moving picture of a Black neighborhood in Pittsburgh's Hill District around 1969. The drama, which is set against a backdrop of social and political unrest, examines themes of hope, adversity, and the unflinching pursuit of dreams.

Wilson skillfully uses the folks that visit Hambone's Diner to create a microcosm of the Black community. Every person embodies a distinct aspect of the community's challenges and goals. We meet Memphis, the charming trickster negotiating the intricacies of life with humor and tenacity; West, the proud owner fearing displacement due to urban renewal; and Risa, the ambitious waitress hoping for a better life.

Through talks, disagreements, and happy times spent together, their lives converge, exposing their unique struggles and goals. While West fights the forces of gentrification that threaten his livelihood, Risa longs to escape the confines of her current situation. Memphis struggles with the burden of society expectations and the enduring presence of racism, despite his easygoing manner.

The protagonists in "Two Trains Running" manage to hold onto a strong sense of community in spite of all the challenges they encounter. They rely on laughter and shared experiences to get through difficult times and find comfort and support in one another. The restaurant turns into a safe haven where people can be themselves and hope for a better future.

The play's title itself is significant, signifying the two avenues that the community might pursue: the one that represents upward mobility and assimilation, represented by a train, and the other that represents self-determination and returning to one's historical roots. The protagonists struggle to decide between these two options, illustrating the difficulties in navigating a world that is both hopeful and difficult.

Wilson gives the drama a genuine and humorous quality through his skillful use of language. The characters' rich vocabulary perfectly captures the inflections and rhythms of Black American speech. Their rich vocabulary is a valuable instrument for communicating their feelings and goals, reflecting their cultural identity.

"Two Trains Running" is more than just a moment in time captured in a particular community. It explores everlasting themes of hope, resiliency, and pursuing aspirations in the face of hardship. It is a timeless examination of the human condition. The audience is taken on a voyage of self-discovery as they step onto the tracks of this thriving community and observe the challenges of navigating life while bearing the weight of history and the hope of a better future.

Brief Synopsis: "Two Trains Running" by August Wilson examines the hopes, dreams, and hardships of a Black neighborhood confronting gentrification and social transformation.