In the play millionaire West gives interesting advice to the ex-convict Sterling. West tells Sterling to “Carry a little cup through life and you’ll never be disappointed.”(Wilson 94). Nevertheless, it is better that Sterling takes advice from the late Steve Jobs who tells us all to not “Let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice”(Jobs 2005). West may be the richest man in all of the Hill district, but his wealth and greed has obviously clouded his judgement. He preaches about low expectations, and accepting what you are handed. If everyone were to take the advice of West then it would be “Segregation now … Segregation Tomorrow … Segregation Forever.”(Wallace 1965) On the contrary, this is not a play about settling for what is given to you, this is not a story about low expectations. This is a story about surpassing circumstances, and following your dreams. This is not simply a play about a restaurant. This drama is the civil rights movement incarnate in the lives of the character it portrays.
No character better represents the righteous dreams of the times than the young Sterling. As the more outspoken of the younger characters he shows how tired the modern African American is with the latent racism of economic segregation. Sterling is not content to work for long hours and low wages. As the wise Holloway points out, who in their right mind would “wanna haul bricks … for a dollar and a quarter an hour?”(Wilson 33). Sterling would much rather spend his days dream of a day when he has money. Sterling dreams of Cadillacs, a wife, and Las Vegas(Wilson 93). On one lucky day Sterling gets his big break and wins the lottery. However, when his full winnings are denied him Sterling is on a mission to get what he deserves. If Sterling were to be carrying a “little cup” any winnings may seem good enough to him. Yet, because of his ardent dreams of a better life he fights for what he sees as being rightfully his.
The year is 1969 and for over nine years now Hambone has been seeking what he deserves(Wilson 22). The character of Hambone represents the entire struggle of African American culture from boat and bondage, to Malcolm and Martin. Like his ancestors Hambone labored under the white man without pay. The only form of remittance given to him is the food he will eat. Yet, hundreds of years later basic equality is denied to Hambone, and even the measly reward he deserves is refused to him. In fact, this mirrors the fight many freed slaves had in the south following the American Civil War. What was promised was being denied. In spite of this injustice Hambone is adamant about getting what he deserves. Every day for over nine years he has fought his own personal passive war with Lutz seeking his rights.
The most passionate civil warrior is the hypocrite Memphis. A self proclaimed hard working man who evidently seems to do little more than preach, and order. However, there is one aspect of Memphis’s life that he finds worth working...