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
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?
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)