Call-and-Response in the City: Embodied Mercy in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone


  • Kathy Glass


Suffering and mercy meet at the crossroads in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1988), a play documenting newly arrived migrants’ dreams and disappointments in Pittsburgh. Moving their very bodies to resist southern oppression, these characters participate in the Great Migration, joining millions of Blacks leaving the south for an uncertain future in the north. My essay examines the challenges facing these migrants, highlighting hope and mercy in the midst of heartbreak. Focusing on characterization, I argue that mercy becomes a resistant social value enabling communion and community in Wilson’s play.