The America Play

by

Suzan-Lori Parks

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The Wonders Symbol Icon

Parks knows that one person’s trash is another’s treasure, and she illustrates this dynamic by having Brazil dig up many of the Foundling Father’s “faux-historical knickknacks” in Act Two and then make a “Hall of Wonders” out of them. These “wonders” range from George Washington’s “wooden teeth” (or “nibblers”) and a pair of “lick-ed boots” to “declarations of war,” medals for things like “knowledge of sewin’” and “fakin’,” and by the very end of the play, the corpse of the Foundling Father himself, dressed up as Lincoln. Of course, the energy Brazil dedicates to digging up these “wonders” contrasts strongly with his Pa’s many years digging graves—while Pa puts the past to rest, Brazil digs it up and spins it into history. Although they are obviously cheap falsehoods and forgeries, the “wonders” get turned into an authoritative version of history through Brazil’s museum-like collection, which clearly parallels the way certain often unimportant elements of history—like Lincoln’s hat and the first four words of the Gettysburg Address—come to displace the facts and stories that truly have profound impacts on the present day. The same process happens with the Foundling Father, of course: he turns Lincoln’s myth into his own life, and his story becomes a powerful myth for Brazil and Lucy, compelling them to move out West in search of the replica of the Great Hole of History. Indeed, Parks suggests that things and people like the “wonders,” Abraham Lincoln, and the Foundling Father turn into history simply because others, like Brazil, invest them with a sense of value or significance. While this implies that history is malleable and open to revision, it also means that people like Brazil and his Pa have some power to determine how and why the past is meaningful to them and their posterity.

The Wonders Quotes in The America Play

The The America Play quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Wonders. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History, Narrative, and Multiplicity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of The America Play published in 1994.
Act 2, Part A: Big Bang Quotes

Dig on, son. —. Cant stop diggin till you dig up somethin. You dig that something up you brush that something off you give that something uh designated place. Its own place. Along with thuh other discoveries. In thuh Hall of Wonders. Uh place in the Hall of Wonders right uhlong with thuh rest of thuh Wonders hear?

Related Characters: Lucy (speaker), Brazil
Related Symbols: The Wonders
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Part C: Archaeology Quotes

Uh Hehm. Uh Hehm. WELCOME WELCOME WELCOME TUH THUH HALL OF —

Related Characters: Brazil (speaker), Lucy
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Part G: The Great Beyond Quotes

To my right: our newest Wonder: One of thuh greats Hisself! Note: thuh body sitting propped upright in our great Hole. Note the large mouth opened wide. Note the top hat and frock coat, just like the greats. Note the death wound: thuh great black hole — thuh great black hole in thuh great head. —And how this great head is bleedin. —Note: thuh last words. —And thuh last breaths. —And how thuh nation mourns —
(Takes his leave)

Related Characters: Brazil (speaker), The Foundling Father, Abraham Lincoln, Lucy
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The America Play LitChart as a printable PDF.
The America Play PDF

The Wonders Symbol Timeline in The America Play

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Wonders appears in The America Play. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Part A: Big Bang
History, Narrative, and Multiplicity Theme Icon
Theater and Reality Theme Icon
Family, Trauma, and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Death, Mourning, and Resurrection Theme Icon
...Then, he’ll “brush that something off” and give it “uh place in the Hall of Wonders right uhlong with thuh rest of thuh Wonders hear?” Lucy starts musing about Bram Price... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Multiplicity Theme Icon
Family, Trauma, and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Death, Mourning, and Resurrection Theme Icon
Brazil comments that “Ff Pa was here weud find his bones,” along with “thuh Wonders” and “his Whispers,” but Lucy disagrees. Brazil says that “Confidence [would have] his last words... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Multiplicity Theme Icon
Family, Trauma, and Personal Identity Theme Icon
After a long silence, Lucy yells “Hellooooo!” Later, Brazil yells “HO!” and pulls out “Uh Wonder!” It’s the bust of Abraham Lincoln. Lucy exclaims, “Howuhboutthat!” After a silence, she hears something,... (full context)
Act 2, Part E: Spadework
Theater and Reality Theme Icon
Family, Trauma, and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...as well be “striding on in” to see them, “nod[ding]” to them for finding “his Wonders” and talking about his life, and finally doing his Lincoln impersonation. This will make them... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Multiplicity Theme Icon
Theater and Reality Theme Icon
Family, Trauma, and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Death, Mourning, and Resurrection Theme Icon
...and shows the Foundling Father’s face on it. Brazil is surprised and repeats, “(ho! Ho! Wonder: ho!),” while Lucy keeps listing the things Pa took: her “spare buttons” and “leftovers,” even... (full context)
Act 2, Part G: The Great Beyond
History, Narrative, and Multiplicity Theme Icon
Theater and Reality Theme Icon
Family, Trauma, and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Death, Mourning, and Resurrection Theme Icon
...The Foundling Father starts talking about how “very loverly [it is] to be here” in “Wonderville,” and throws in a few Lincoln quotes, like “4score and 7 years ago our fathers—ah... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Multiplicity Theme Icon
Theater and Reality Theme Icon
Family, Trauma, and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Brazil announces, “Welcome Welcome Welcome to thuh hall. Of. Wonders.” He starts describing the wonders, exactly as he did earlier: there is the jewel box... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Multiplicity Theme Icon
Race and American Identity Theme Icon
Theater and Reality Theme Icon
Family, Trauma, and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Death, Mourning, and Resurrection Theme Icon
Finally, Brazil points to “our newest Wonder: One of the greats Hisself!” He tells the audience to “Note” how the Foundling Father’s... (full context)