Short Essay Questions Key
1. What is the premise of THE RIVER NIGER?
THE RIVER NIGER is Joseph A. Walker's play about a black family living in the 1970s in Harlem, New York. The plot line reveals the themes of the struggles and the pre-determined roles of black men in America.
2. How does the play begin and who is the first character to appear?
As the play opens, it is 4:30 on a February afternoon in a brownstone in Harlem. As the lights go up on a set revealing a large living room and kitchen, an old woman, Grandma Wilhemina Brown, pours coffee into a big mug. After adding some cream and sugar, Grandma looks around furtively. Realizing that she is alone, she retrieves a bottle of whiskey from a kitchen cabinet and pours a healthy amount into her coffee mug.
3. Who is John Williams and what is his demeanor as he enters the play?
John Williams, a man in his mid-50s, enters his home through the kitchen door. John is a painter by trade and wears clothes that are heavily crusted with paint. It is obvious by John's demeanor that he is slightly intoxicated. His disappointment at counting the contents of his wallet prompts him to take a bottle of whiskey from his coat pocket and take a long swallow.
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