Fences by August Wilson Critical Essay
August Wilson was born in Pittsburgh’s Hill district in 1945 to a white father and a black mother which was certainly not a promising start in his life. His racial identity caused him quite a number of misfortunes inherent within the trans-racial culture of slavery and discrimination.
In historical sense, the play eluminates the inherent inequality of power between black communities and the white supremacies and ways in which racism has become internalised by invading the social fabric of our communities. In the play, “Fences” by August Wilson, the character of Troy Maxson portrays a man that has a lot of hard times in his past, especially when it came to his father. Because of it, it has turned him into a man incapable of showing love to his own children and in the end a tragic figure.
The book’s title “Fences”, offers a central metaphor for the play in exploring lives and relationships of black families back in 1950s as slaves to the white men. Troy, a major character in the book, is fiercely proud of his ability to provide for his family, a responsibility he effortlessly tries to instil into his son’s life who is otherwise determined to find a place in the college league.
Racism and discrimination becomes the centre stone of our analysis by providing the metaphoric activity of the play which however illustrates the distinct relationships that existed between the black and white cultures in 1950s.
For nearly two decades, Troy worked as garbage man alongside Bono. Together they hauled junk on the alleys and neighbourhoods, and later applied for a promotion which was not an easy task due to the white supremacy but got it anyway as a garbage truck driver, a career that symbolically separated him from American community (Wade 1).
To answer the question of fractured relationship between Troy and his son, Troy’s inability to secure a chance in Negro Baseball Team due to racism crippled his future of ever having money or fame associated with it. Since he now works as a garbage man, he sees no hope for his son’s promised college scholarship in a league he considered dominated by the white culture. He asks Cory to instead consider getting a job or help out in the household chores than bartering up in the league.
Troy and Bono narrates the story of their childhood in the South and their difficult relationships with their fathers and how Negro League scaled down his life time dream to fit a rich man’s society into a run-down yard, an experience he never wishes his son Cory to encounter.
He’s been seriously scarred by the 1950s racism that loomed black communities. Brutality can also be portrayed when Troy’s father severely beat him when he found him with a girl and even raped the girl, reflecting conflict and abuse within the play (Fisherman 15).
Due to slavery, Troy and his son, Cory, interpret life differently because of their histories. For instance, Troy discourages his son from participating in the college’s football team arguing that his past racism experience discriminated him against the league for being of the minority culture.
And Cory should not experience the same hardship, disappointment and rejection he encountered. Corry, however, dismisses his claim by arguing that life has changed since he played. He therefore goes ahead and provides examples of successful African American athletes Wilson mentions as “The Braves got Hank Aaron and Wes Covington. Hank Aaron hit two home runs today. That makes fourty-three” (Act One scene three).
And Cory responds by saying that “Hank Aaron aint nobody” (Act One, scene three). It’s evident that if Troy would accept this change in the world would mean accepting his own misfortune. Their different perceptions of history provide a conflict that drifts away the father and son relationship.
Troy looks back at his past experience in the Negro League baseball with repulsive resentment that locked him out of the major league’s money and fame; an experience Zirin considers “turned his scars into wips” (1).
Due to is past experiences that never achieved him higher status in the social society, he insist on Troy returning to work and earn his way up in academic career because he sees employment to be fair and honest rather than risking his chance in the college league that is dominated by the powerful majority group. He is sure, sooner or laiter, that they will want him out of the league. And it was this discrimination that made him defiance.
In historical perspective, Cory sees life the way it is; a changing world that is gradually accepting a place for talented black players like him, but Troy’s irrational hypocrisy illustrates conflicting interpretation of history.
His hardened perception of the past makes him refuse to see the college recruiter coming to seek his permission for Cory to join the college football. He considers his selfish decision as protection, a strategy that clearly holds back a promising future for the son he believes to be protecting (Wilson Act One scene five).
Dr. Shannon argues that Wilson book “Fences” has contributed greatly to the historical legacy of African American tradition in relation to slavery and racism. She continues that the play provide themes that cut cross the contemporary social issues inherent within the slavery period.
She adds that the book lets the readers talk openly about unemployment, discrimination, pain, resignation and dislocation and exposes the long held stereotypical myths and views white people have against blacks. She also uses the book to lecture in seminars on social relevance of the books themes in today’s society (Shannon 3).
Fences by August Wilson re-writes the history of African American in the United States that was otherwise ignored by a vast majority of historical writers. By confronting horrors of slavery, the play uncoils the stories that were forgotten and misrepresented by writers who only read about them but did not have the experience Wilson had. The play brings the past to the present and it is without doubt the most remarkable healing therapy for African American would need to burry the past and move forward.
Which brings us to the question why Troy Maxon’s past made him so harsh towards his son? To answer this question, we consider his painful past experiences he never wishes to pass on to his son, however, it should be noted that his experience only relates to history and should not come in the way of his next generation’s success. By refusing Cory to join the college football league only kills his son’s good future he considers protecting either than bettering it.
Fisherman, Joan. “Developing His Song: August Wilson’s Fences.” August Wilson: A Case Study. Ed. Marilyn Elkins. New York: Garland, 1994.
Shannon, Sandra G. The Dramatic Vision of August Wilson. Washington, D.C: Howard UP, 1995.
Wade, Bradford. “August Wilson’s Fences”. Character and Setting Analysis. 2003: 1 Wilson, August. Fences: A play. New York: Plume Books, 1986.
Zirin, David. 2005. “Tribute to August Wilson: Breaking Down Fences”. Web.
American Dream: “Fences” by August Wilson Essay
The play ‘Fences” by August Wilson explores the delicate issue of racism by interrogating the experiences of a black family as tracked in a number of decades. The effects of racism revealed in several instances in ‘Fences’ contradicts the national ethos of the American dream.
The title of the play alludes on the boundary that exists between the whites and the blacks in the United States of America. The American dream makes it clear through its guarantee of the freedom and equality with the promise of prosperity and success as per the ability or personal achievements of every American citizen. “Fences” reveals the obstacles that the different issues of race put on the way towards the realization of the American dream by the African-Americans with a close analysis of the characters in the play.
Intersection of racism with the attainment of the American Dream in “Fences”
Throughout the two generations that are represented in the play; Troy’s and Cory’s, the experiences of the black man tend to take an important change for the better (Koprince 346). The woes of the black American however, as revealed in the tales that Troy and Boon exchange started way back and are rooted in the slavery experience of the blacks. According to the tales, when the blacks were freed, they migrated from the south towards the north where they expected to lead much better lives with plenty opportunities.
However, an obvious sense of disillusionment follows this considering that they had no resources and infrastructure to depend upon. As emphasized through Troy’s experiences as a youth, the blacks were cast into a competitive capitalistic society while they were unprepared. This explains the reason why Troy, having left his father at a tender age had to live in shanties, steal and end up in prison.
The sense of equal opportunities was not appreciable those days despite the fact that the American state had declared freedom and equality to everyone regardless of the race (Miller 44). The prison experience provides a deeper explanation as to the disproportionate number of blacks to whites in American prisons.
The fact that Troy was a skilled baseball player in his youthful days but never found him a chance to get a place in the Major League Baseball due to the color of his skin beats the essence of the American dream (Koprince 345). Despite the fact that he was skilled and could play better than most white players could in the league, Troy could not secure a favor of acceptance in the league following the regulations that were in place aimed at racially discriminating the blacks.
Troy could have used this opportunity and earned a living as well as bridge the gap by climbing up the social ladder as provided for by the American dream. However, this was not the case, as the administrators could not allow him since it was until much later when he was already aged that the league administrators started accepting black players into the teams. This discrimination as portrayed through Troy deprives the African Americans the chance of making it in life despite their abilities.
When Troy’s son Cory is given the chance to join his college football team, Troy opposes the idea and says, “The white man aint’ gonna let him get nowhere with that football” (Wilson 915). This expresses his disillusionment with the system basing his argument on the experiences he had had earlier on in his life. Troy has to work even while he is aging to provide for his family while he could have saved from his abilities as a baseball player and used the money later.
In Act One of ‘Fences”, Troy’s character as a crusader of the black American rights is revealed when he stands up against the oppressive and racially discriminative decrees at his work place. This is where he faces the company manager at his workplace and asks him why other races denied the black men a chance to drive garbage trucks but were only working as garbage lifters in the company. His courage seems portrayed in his words to his boss.
He says, “That’s all I did. I went to Mr. Rand and asked him, why? Why you got the white men’s driving and the colored lifting?” (Wilson 913). This portrays his reaction to a system that sets limits on the black man despite his capabilities. The blacks seemed subjected to handle only the menial jobs that could never see them through financially. By driving the garbage trucks, the whites were being favored at the expense of the blacks who handled more hefty duties but earned less.
The fact that the long journey towards the realization of the American dream seems to take place during the times of troy can never escape the notice of a keenly interested reader of ‘Fences’” (Koprince 349). The claim follows several changes towards the attainment of the dream where absolute freedom and the upheaval of human rights hold take place throughout the play.
For instance, Troy’s grandparents had been slaves up until when Abraham Lincoln declared the abolition of slavery. “They sold the use of their muscles and bodies. They cleaned houses and washed clothes, they shined shoes and, in quiet desperation and vengeful pride, they stole and lived in pursuit of their dreams.
That they could breathe free, finally, and stand to meet life with the force of dignity and whatever eloquence the heart could call upon. (Wilson 912). There is a major transition from slavery towards freedom portrayed in fences. This is a major step in that it was the first stepping-stone towards the realization of the dream that puts emphasis on personal liberty and freedom.
As the play continues, several changes for the better take place. These include the change in the regulations that regulated the national league baseball to start accepting black players and labor rules. However, this took a lot of time to an extent that the delay cost Troy a career that could have meant a better life for him.
Later on in Act 2, Troy wins his quest in the garbage truck driving case securing the opportunity to become the first African American to drive the garbage trucks in his town. This mirrors the reality of the time when the play is set when the black movement was holding demonstrations against the oppressive white dominated regime.
The fact that it is Troy, who secures the first opportunity, one can view it as reflecting the strategies used by the oppressive regime to silence those championing for the rights of through incentives.
Once the person leading the liberation or anti racist movement accepted bribery, the demonstrations and constant pestering ended, a case perceived as possible considering the story of the African American that Troy and his wife talks about earlier on in the play that won a lottery and completely turned against his fellow blacks and became prejudiced against his own race.
Troy says, “I seen a white fellow come in there and order a bowl of stew. Pope picked all the meat out the pot for him. Man ain’t had anything but a bowl of meat! Negro come behind him and ain’t got nothing but the potatoes and carrots” (Wilson 923). This was after the Pope had refused serving a fellow black man.
Conclusion/Importance of My Interpretation
My style of interpretation plays an important role to the Americans as it reveals the position of racism as a major barrier in their effort to realize their dream. Based on the expositions made in the paper, the promises that the American dream offers to the Americans seem delayed and counteracted by racism as portrayed in “Fences”. This stands out through a keen observation of the happenings in the play as they revolve around the lives of people in a black family.
The conditions and experiences as subjected to the African Americans seem clear through their living conditions, which contrast the aspects of the American dream of giving the people an opportunity to lead richer and fuller lives with their rights intact as their creator (Miller 90) predestines them. The simplistic setting of the play in Troy’s yard symbolizes the humble conditions of the blacks despite having had opportunities to change their lives and make them fuller and more complete (Willie 165).
Troy dies still struggling with the effects of racism despite the fact that he was born after the abolition of slavery, which did not straighten the conditions for black Americans. This reveals that the attainment of the American dream is a means to an end rather than an end in itself with the revelations of its promises occurring gradually with time.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987.
Koprince, Susan. Baseball as history and myth in August Wilson’s Fences. African American Review 40.2 (2006): 343-356.
Willie, Harrell. The Reality of American Life Has Strayed From Its Myths. Journal of Black Studies 41 (2010): 164-183.
Wilson, August. Fences. New York: Kissinger publications, 1990.
August Wilson’s Fences Critical Essay
August Wilson’s Fences displays the struggle of African Americans to attain their ambitions. Wilson explained clearly how men in African-American struggled to be victorious in achieving their dreams. Literary scripts can contribute greatly as historical articles which express social actualities that are creatively displayed by the Wilson.
Hence, literature may not be disconnected from society and the analysis of literature must be associated to society. August Wilson is well-known in American literature as a writer of plays of African-American who usually narrate about African incidences in the past societies in U.S. The attempts of African Americans to attain their ambitions, as well as its challenging social matters like discriminations are portrayed in his play called Fences.
This play narrates about a black family in 1950s who attempted to live among the people in the American urban regions (Bogumi 34). The author himself stayed in African American slum society during his early age, which he went on to portray in several dramatic writings.
The play, Fences, gives an appealing case of the way both metaphysical and physical expressions of particular African retentions joint to enhance existing African American culture. The Africa which the author revives in Fences portrays itself through different levels and in both explicit and implicit ways. Normally, such ways may not be comprehended if American sense exists as the only standard. These African links come out in unspoken policies which shape everyday rituals of such characters and instill the play on several stages.
Through analyzing Fences within African American cosmology, instead of depending only upon Western models of examination, the play produces a greater important interpretation of how black Americans settle the issues of their “double consciousness” in the America (Steffens 5). That African cosmology turns into an important section of the play’s sub textual tale, a tale which opposes America’s disruptive discrimination with Africa’s ability to cure, reunite, and empower.
All through the play, the search of dreams has contributed greatly in the characters’ self-achievement. Nevertheless, Fences mainly focused on the men characters and their goals; the author did not talk much about the characters of women. As Wilson portrays the characters of men in detail, the dreams of female characters stay undeclared.
Furthermore, just one female, called Rose Maxson, who represented his women characters, while the rest of women protagonists only existed after they are cited by other women characters participating in the play. It appears that the author merely provides opportunity to Rose to express her mind as a member of the African American women. Hence, Rose is a main character which may be employed as the channel to understand about the way women observe the benefit of possessing and attaining their dreams.
From the start of the play, Rose is expressed as the character under the patriarchal control and association with her spouse is exemplified through her spouse’s sexist viewpoints. Just like the rest of Black women, when she went into marriage, she had to sacrifice her freedom and she is possessed and completely authorized by her husband.
While she attempts to safeguard her family, Troy is betraying through having relationship with different women as his manner to attain free will. This issue surprised Rose: “You should have stayed in my bed, Troy… You should have held me tight. You should have grabbed me and hold on.” (Wilson 1333). She is curious about Troy’s faithfulness as her spouse and his compliance to maintain their marriage in a positive path.
The goods moods and close relations among a mother and children as well may be observed in the family of the author. Wilson and his brothers and sisters took their mother as their role model, whereas their father was mainly not there during their early age. Their mother was the person who showed them the benefit of possessing stable sense of satisfaction and zero tolerance for impartiality.
As the author wrote about African-American, he did not prevent the control of culture in the place he grew up, including his previous incidences of discrimination, and he made his play derived on those factors which he experienced from his life. Additionally, he expressed that Fences provides a distinct viewpoint on the way persons observe the African-Americans, which can have an impact on the way they think and contact each other.
In Fences, Wilson attempted to describe the experiences of women in the past societies through introducing or using Rose, he employed her character as his device to portray how difficult the life of Black American is. Her disappointment in attaining her dream to have a successful marriage and her intention to dedicate her life greatly on her parenthood’s side, looks like the life of some African American mothers.
His mother, who was unsuccessful in trying to have the best family during her initial marriage, along with her achievement in improving her children’s status, are his devices to direct his reader to understand effectively about the past of African American females.
From the analysis of Fences, it can be deduced that the author is conscious of the status of African-American who are near him and he made his play derived from such facts (Bogumi 34), therefore Wilson employed the characters like Rose to pass a point to the African American women to consider their ambitions and even, to add more efforts to attain their goals, even though their goals are still nearly linked to the concepts satisfying their responsibilities as the core provider of the family.
He did well in displaying is perspective on the way African American women must observe the benefit of having their own goals and what they must perform to attain such goals.
Certainly, African American women in the past had fewer opportunities upon getting into adulthood. Rarely did such options go past their marriage, parenthood, and family life.
Finances used during their schooling was seen as an ill-advised investment, particularly since less job opportunities were not there for them which needed more than a capacity of providing for the needs of the white Americans. Furthermore, the status of anti-intellectualism against female proposed that schooling “stained” women and create them not to be better wives.
In conclusion, the existence of the African-Americans is mainly evaluated by men values and standards. From the above analysis, female are placed in the inequality position by men and the patriarchal structure, and this status creates them, rarely, have an opportunity to consider their own dreams so attain them. Wilson is successful in displaying is perspective on what issues experienced by women who are attempting to attain their dreams as a kind of equality and acceptance in the community.
August Wilson’s Fences not only motivates debate, but it as well motivates thoughts concerning human status. The play brings about the degree of understanding that exceeds certain experiences of the Maxson family and continues to portray a simple wisdom for both the individual and for that particular person as a connection in a family system (Steffens 5). The idea of this play is to bring to the front within complete observation of the racial and economic difficulties which African Americans faced during past America society.
Bogumi, Maryl. Understanding August Wilson. Columbia, SC: Univ of South Carolina Press, 1999. Print.
Steffens, Johannes. Recognizing ‘Fences’ – Troy Maxson’s Identity Politics. New York: GRIN Verlag, 2007. print.
Wilson, August. Fences Drama: A Pocket Anthology. 3rd Ed. New York: Penguin Academics, 2006. Print.
Psychological Freedom Essay
Fences is a play written by August Wilson, an American playwright, in 1983. The play explores experiences of black Americans during the 1950s concerning racial discriminations that dominated the society. The play focuses on the life of Troy, the main character, a family man who is 53 years old.
His wife, Rose, and his son, Cory, rely on him in every aspect of their life. In the play, Troy struggles to provide for his family by performing menial jobs. During his youthful period, Troy was a baseball player, but he did not manage to reap most out of his talent because racial discrimination denied him the opportunity to play major leagues in baseball. According to Wilson, Troy differs from his son when he denies him a chance to play in school football (37).
In the play, Troy works as a garbage man, and later manages to work as a truck driver after a series of struggles because racial discrimination restrains black men from working as drivers. Troy has an affair with Alberta, so they have a daughter, Raynell. Unfortunately, Alberta dies during delivery. In this view, this essay seeks to explain psychological freedom and self-determination as exhibited in the play by depicting how Wilson’s life experiences influenced the development of the play.
Psychological Freedom and Self-Determination
The play, Fences, reflects struggles that August Wilson encountered in his life. Since his father left him, his mother and stepfather assume the responsibility of raising and providing him with essential education that he needs. However, August Wilson did not continue with his education because “he was accused of plagiarism at school when he wrote sophisticated paper, which the administration did not believe he could write” (Wilson 2).
The school administration suspends and denies him a chance to continue with his studies. Despite the suspension, August Wilson exhibits self-determination by going to the local library where he studies on his own. After reading extensively, he manages to gain literary skills that help him venture into play writing.
During his childhood, August Wilson is determined to become an author, but his mother dreams to see him as an attorney. Given that August Wilson refuses to comply with his mother’s demands, she compels him to move out of their home and join the United States Army.
The self-determination and freedom of choice make August Wilson pursue his own dream. Although his mother has a strong influence on his life, August Wilson manages to overcome it when he decides to go against her wishes. Burbank highlights, “Wilson’s artistic and political efforts overlap as attempts to elaborate the identity of descendants of slaves; to restore agency to a population otherwise collectively reduced to a trope” (122).
Wilson’s experience relates to the experience of Cory and his father Troy in the play. Troy denies his son to take part in the football because he believes that racism may hinder Cory’s performance and progress as it did to him years ago. Hence, the experience of family pressure on career development, as the play exhibits, relates to the experiences of August Wilson.
Given that August Wilson experiences racial discrimination against black Americans, he employs his literary skills in fighting racism. Burbank argues, “Wilson’s work revealed Black Americans to be forcibly infused aliens, shaping their destiny as best they could within a strange culture” (117).
Experiences in racism and self-determination prompt Wilson to join black power movement to fight for the rights of the black Americans. In his literary articles and books, August Wilson focuses on the experiences of the black as most of his works illustrate. The play even deals with experiences of the black; hence, it means that his historical experiences are central in development of the play.
In the play, Troy reveals his irritation when he questions why the black employees are unable to work as garbage truck drivers. He observes that the white employers undermine black employees because blacks have a chance to work only as garbage collectors.
Discrimination against the blacks makes Troy feel inferior as a black. In his experiences and struggles, Troy sees the importance of fighting for self-determination and refuses to submit to inferior status, thus enabling him to secure a job as a truck driver in the city. According to Wilson, Troy “has been given promotion that will make him the first black garbage truck driver in the city” (34). Through determination, this promotion makes Troy overcome racism and feel superior.
Although he has a wife, Troy has a clandestine affair with another woman. The affair results in Alberta becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, she dies during delivery. Troy decides to take the child, Raynell, and raise him with his wife. He is not sure if his wife will accept to take care of the baby.
Fortunately, he convinces his wife to take care of the child, as a stepmother. According to Wilson, “Rose takes in Raynell as her own child, but refuses to be dutiful as Troy’s wife,” (63). Therefore, Troy exhibits self-determination as he succeeds in making his wife accept his affair with Alberta and convince her to take care of the kid. In spite of issues in his family, Troy is self-determined because he tries to solve them.
Cory, the son of Troy and Rose, plays football in the school team. His father is jealous of him and goes ahead to stop him from participating in the football league by telling the coach not to allow Cory to participate in the game. In spite of attempts by his father to prevent him from playing football, persistence gives Cory the impetus to continue with his career in the football club.
Wilson states that being unable to deter Cory, “Troy warns Cory that his insubordination is a strike against him” (44). Troy extends his evil deeds by fighting Cory and ensures that he sends him out of the house on allegations that Cory must be self-reliant. Through his determination, Cory secures a job in the military and comes home to attend Troy’s funeral. Hence, self-determination and freedom enable Cory to pursue his dreams despite his father’s influence.
Fences is a play that illustrates the life of Troy, the main character of the play in terms of experiences that he undergoes in a racist society that is full of struggles. The play exhibits determination that Troy employs as he faces numerous challenges in life that prompt him to endure and continue pursuing his dreams.
Moreover, the play is a reflection of life’s experiences of the writer, August Wilson, because the main character shares common experiences with the writer. Comparatively, both Troy and August Wilson differ from their parents regarding their careers, thus prompting them to enter into military. Therefore, the play does not only provide experiences of the blacks but also reflects life’s experiences of August Wilson. Apparently, no barrier can withstand self-determination, as explored in Fences.
Burbank, Surgei. “The shattered mirror: what August Wilson means and willed to mean.” College Literature 36.2 (2009): 117-129. EBSCOhost. Web.
Wilson, August. Fences: A Play. New York: Plume, 1986. Print.
The Theme of Liberation from Racism in Two Plays by August Wilson Essay
August Wilson is a successful author who is known for proper relation of his short stories to reality. Almost all Wilson’s plays involve aspects of his life in precision to racism and issues closely related.
The essay will focus in the theme of liberation from racism. Comparison in relation to effects of racism and approaches of liberation between two plays by Wilson will be made. Further, the feasibility and relevance of the short stories in the life of Wilson will be well outlined. The essay will focus on two plays namely; Fences and The Piano Lesson.
The different ways perceived as possible freedom from racism will be discussed in regard to Wilson’s perceptions. Further, the essay will highlight instances where the theme of racism liberation is not well brought out in both stories. The discussion will outline the clearer way in which the author could have better presented the theme of liberty and effects of racism. Consequently, the discussion will highlight the different ways in which different characters interpret liberation from racism.
Wilson was born in a poor family that was exposed to racism. Wilson’s parents were immigrants and faced discrimination due to inferiority of black race. Poverty was due to racism as blacks were not allowed to work in better paying jobs. His life was greatly influenced by racism and the journey to become an author was subjected to many challenges including that of dropping out of school at the age of sixteen.
Wilson was accused of plagiarism simply because he was black and was not expected to come up with a complicated essay. Wilson hid the issue of expulsion from his mother because he did not want her to feel disappointed. In the schools he attended before expulsion he was abused and maltreated because of his race. As a result of racism, Wilson ended up in unskilled jobs due to constant discrimination that was accorded to the black race (Little 8).
Wilson differed with his mother who wanted him to become a lawyer while he dreamt of being an author. Career pressurization was a result of racial discrimination. Wilson thought that when he became an author he would be able to mitigate the effects of racism. His mother on the other hand thought that the effects of racism could only be dealt with by law career development.
The conflict between Wilson and his mother resulted to disunity and Wilson was sent away from home. Wilson joined the United States army and later left it for unskilled jobs. His writing career begun shortly after his father’s death and it escalated rapidly (Little 9).
Fences was written by August Wilson in 1983 and has secured so many awards ever since. The play is based on racial discrimination that black Americans survived due to existence of the gap between them and the white superior race.
The essay focuses on the effects associated with racial discrimination and the approaches used in liberating the black Americans. In the play, Troy is the main character who acts as a bread winner of his family which constitutes of Rose and Cory. Troy works in the unskilled jobs industry as a garbage man since black Americans are not allowed to work in well paying jobs.
The menial jobs are very similar to the situation of Wilson after he was expelled from school. Troy cannot work in a better job since black Americans are discriminated. Similarly, Wilson ended up in the menial jobs after he was discontinued from school. Plagiarism accusations were based on black race discrimination. The play illustrates how black Americans like Wilson were discriminated and approaches they used in liberating themselves from effects of racism (Wilson 12).
In the play Troy participated in basketball but was unsuccessful due to racial discrimination. Troy was not allowed to play in the prominent leagues that would open up success opportunities. Racial discrimination has long term impacts as evidenced by the way Troy discourages his son from participation in football.
Corey however, persists and registers with a football club. Troy’s persistence secures him a place to work as a truck driver. Troy is involved in an affair with Alberta and they bear Raynell. Alberta dies as she delivers and Troy convinces his wife Rose to accept Raynell. Rose accepts Raynell but promises that she will not be a dutiful wife. Troy sends Corey away from home in the excuse of making him responsible and independent. Corey ventures in the military career and returns home at the funeral of his father (Wilson 8).
The piano lesson
The play features the effects of economic instability on African American immigrants in 1930s. The black Americans were discriminated and enslaved by the white race. Enslavement involved forced labor and maltreatment in prisons.
The black Americans were forced to work in the land owned by the white race and were fed in exchange of their labor. The play features Willie the main antagonist who wants to sell a family piano so as to liberate himself from slavery. Notably, racial discrimination leads to slavery which the victims want to be freed from.
The play starts with the arrival of Willie and Lymon in Charles Doaker’s home. Willie and Lymon have a track of watermelons that they want to sell. However, Willie is affected by the great gap that exists between black and white races. Willie is stigmatized and wants to sell the family piano so as to liberate himself from racial discrimination and inequity. Willie attributes racism to poverty and slavery that his ancestors endured. According to Willie the piano should be sold so as to own the land that his ancestors worked as slaves (Wilson 4).
Bernice is Willie’s sister and main protagonist of the play. She believes that the piano should not be sold since it is the only existing legacy for the family. According to Bernice, the piano should remain intact so as to ensure that their ancestors are constantly with them. The blood and tears shed and rubbed on the piano by Bernice’s mother represents the suffering endured by the black Americans during slavery.
Since her parents always played the piano Bernice felt that the legacy of their family should be maintained. However, Bernice did not want to play the piano any more after the death of her parents to avoid waking the spirits. The Sutter ghost is mentioned throughout the play and it represents the white man who owned Charles’s family during slavery. Despite the advice of selling the piano to stop haunt of spirits, Bernice still refuses to sell it (Wilson 10).
Willie is persistent on selling the piano and moves on to find a potential buyer. Charles Doarker and Bernice warn Willie that the urge to sell the piano is a trap set by the spirit of Sutter so as to kill him. Willie disregards the advice and attempts to move the piano. The ghost of Sutter appears and blessings by Avery Brown are fruitless. Bernice rushes and plays the piano as a way calling for help from her ancestors. As Bernice plays the piano the spirit of Sutter disappears and Willie leaves (Wilson 11).
The two short stories are crucial in eliciting effects of racism and different approaches used to mitigate them. In all scenarios racial discrimination led to conflicts and hostility among the black Americans.
Wilson differed with his mother when he wanted him to become a lawyer and was sent away from home. In Fences, Troy sent Corey away from home since he wanted to venture into football, which was against his father’s wish. In the Piano lesson, Bernice differed with Willie on the approaches of liberating themselves from discrimination (Little 8).
Poverty was a common effect of racial discrimination that had black race on the receiving end. The parents of Wilson were poor since they were only allowed to work in unskilled jobs. Wilson worked in menial jobs because he could not be allowed to work in high rank jobs. Troy worked as a garbage man for a long time since black Americans could not work in better jobs. Willie was poor because he worked in farms that did not belong to him. The parents of Bernice and Willie lived in slavery which made them poor (Wilson 13).
The victims had different perceptions as far as coping with effects of racial discrimination was concerned. Wilson wanted to become an author because he thought that it was the best way to deal with racial discrimination. On the other hand, his mother wanted him to become a lawyer.
His mother associated freedom from discrimination with the career of law. In fences, Troy sent Cory away from home due to his persistence in playing football. Troy asked the referee of the football team to stop Cory from playing. Troy actions are based on his experiences of racial discrimination.
The author fails to elaborate on this point intensely. Wilson should have highlighted the interpretation of the different victims who were subjected to racial discrimination. For example, he could have explained the reason for the persistent discouragement of Troy on the participation of his son in football club. Troy could have wanted Cory to adopt a career that would liberate them from effects of racial discrimination (Spradley and Mccurdy 11).
Stigmatization was also an impact of racial discrimination and had the black Americans as the victims. Wilson felt stigmatized due to the fact that he was expelled from school and accused of plagiarism. Due to stigmatization Wilson hid the expulsion from his mother and instead opted to work in the menial jobs.
Further, his family was forced out of a house where they lived together with the white race. Wilson studied in three different schools all of which he was maltreated because of his race. In Fences Troy was irritated and stigmatized by the fact that black Americans cannot work in better jobs. Further, Tory was devastated when he was denied the opportunity to participate in prominent basketball leagues.
One reason why Troy discouraged Cory from participation in football team and club was to prevent him from experience of stigma that he underwent during his youth (Little 12). In Piano lesson, Willie feels stigmatized by the slavery and is determined to be equal with the white race. According to Willie, racial equity would only be established if he owns land like the white race.
Maltreatment is an effect of racial discrimination. In the two stories Wilson talks of the ways in which the black Americans were maltreated. Wilson left one of the schools because he was being abused. Troy worked as a garbage man because that was the job offered to black Americans.
In Piano lessons, slavery is the main theme. Willie was imprisoned to work in a farm that was owned by a white person. The spirit of Sutter shows how the white race restricted and maltreated the black race. Bernice refuses to sell the piano because she feels that it would be like throwing away the legacy that her parents had labored for, all their years in slavery (Burbank 119).
The effects of discrimination and coping strategies adopted by black Americans are well scrutinized in the short stories done by Wilson. As a matter of fact, the stories depict the experiences of Wilson in his journey to become an author who was free from racial discrimination. The short stories play a significant role in reduction of racial discrimination.
The negative impacts associated with racial discrimination have been outlined so as to discourage its spread. The success by the victims in the end of his stories encourages those who are subjected to any form of racial discrimination. Determination of the victims helped them realize their set goal. Efforts should be directed towards reducing the margin that exists between races.
Burbank, Surgei. “The shattered mirror: what August Wilson means and willed to mean.” College Literature 36.2 (2009): 117-129. EBSCOhost. Web.
Little, Johnathan. Twentieth-Century American Dramatists: Second Series. Detroit, Michigan: Gale publishers, 2000. Print.
Spradley, James, and David Mccurdy. Conformity and Conflict: Readings In Cultural Anthropology. New York: Pearson Education press, 2009. Print.
Wilson, August. Fences: A Play. New York: Plume, 1986. Print.
Wilson, August. The Piano Lesson. New York: Plume, 1991. Print.
Comparing A Rising in the Sun by L.Hansberry and Fences by A.Wilson Essay
This paper analyses family matters and power relations in Angela Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and August Wilson’s Fences.
These two stories, even though they tackle different issues, relationships between and among family members and power relations, come out clearly. In comparing these two stories, the paper analyses the use of plot the and symbolism employed here as elements of drama.
Analysis and Comparison
The plot in literature refers to the structure of a story to bring out exposition, complication, climax, and resolution. The plot in these two stories compares strongly for it is similar in many aspects. They are both divided into different acts each with several scenes.
The issue of family matters sets in immediately as the stories begin. In A Raising of the Sun, the story opens by lives of an African-American family by the name Youngers.
As the story opens, each person in the family is thinking of what to do with the money they are about to get from an insurance firm as compensation of Mr. Youngers’ death.
Mama, wife to Mr. Younger plans to spend the money by buying a dream house that she dreamt of with her late husband.
On the other hand, Walter Lee, a son, prefers to invest the money in a joint bar business with his friends because this investment would put their financial woes behind their backs. Ruth, Walter’s wife shares Mama’s dream of buying a house.
On her side, Beneatha, a daughter wishes to pay her tuition fees using that money. This is the exposition of the story.
On the other hand, Fences has a similar exposition. The story begins with tackling family issues especially money. It is on a Friday and Troy, and Bono has received their pay after which they have gone to drink at Troy’s place.
The element of power also sets in, as Troy cannot understand why blacks cannot drive garbage trucks.
However, Troy is cheating on Rose, his wife with whom they have a son, Cory. Rose reminds Troy of a fence that he was to build. The exposition in these two stories share something; that is, family issues.
As the stories progress into complication, the Youngers in A Rising of the Sun, Ruth realizes that she is impregnated; however, Walter does not say anything concerning the issue of abortion. Mama goes ahead to pay a down payment of the house.
However, people living in Clybourne Park, do not want to live close to this family. Therefore, they offer some money to Youngers not to move in that neighborhood. Walter losses his money to Willy Harris; whom they were to open a joint liquor store.
Events in Fences take a similar route of complication. Cory quits his job; something his father will not hear of, and this makes them be at loggerheads.
Bono, Cory, and Troy continue building the fence, and Bono posit that they have to make the wall for Rose because she loves her family. Bono promises to buy his wife a fridge because he loves her. Troy confesses a clandestine affair with Alberta.
Rose is infuriated about this affair, and he brands Troy “a selfish man concerned more in taking than giving” (Wilson Para. 26). Troy tries to attack Rose, but Cory attacks him; however, Troy wins.
In the climax, the Youngers hold on their dream to live in their new house beneath dumps George Murchison for Joseph Asagai. In Fences, Troy visits Alberta in the hospital where she had a stillbirth. It hurts, and Troy tells death to come for him if it can, but after finishing the fence.
The tension between Troy and Cory boils out, and Cory is kicked out of the house after a physical confrontation.
Finally, in resolution, the Youngers move in their dream house. They realize their future is uncertain but draws courage to move on from strong family ties. They vow to stay together and stop clashing over their different dreams and aspirations. Asagai is to pay tuition fees for Beneatha.
In Fences, Cory comes home after eight years to bury Troy who died from cardiac disease. However, upon reaching home, Cory decides not to show up in the funeral; however, this makes him a lesser man according to Rose. He finally agrees to show up.
Gabriel, Troy’s brother, who was in mental asylum shows up, it, is not clear whether he has escaped or not. However, he tries to play the trumpet, but it fails to produce sound. He resorts to dancing, and as the play closes, he says, “That’s the way that goes!” (Wilson Para. 26).
The two stories employ different symbols. In drama, symbolism refers to the use of images or logos to express certain information (DiYanni 966). In Fences, the fence is used symbolically. Bono observes that Rose wants the wall because she loves her family.
The fence here represents the ties that bind this family from breakage. Even after Troy confesses of his affair with Alberta, the marriage does not break up because the ‘fence’ holds the family together. Troy is unfaithful, he lacks love, and that is why he cannot complete building the fence in time.
Rose has to remind him from time to time. This lack of commitment to finishing the wall symbolizes how Troy is unwilling to love his wife and family, no wonder he has an affair with Alberta.
On the other hand, Mama’s plant in A Rising of the Sun is used symbolically. As the play opens, she is greatly concerned about taking care of the plant. This plant symbolizes her family and her care to the plant parallels her love and care for her family.
She says, “This plant never gets enough light or water, but I take pride in how it nevertheless flourishes under my care” (Hansberry Para. 3).
It is true that her family is not satisfied with the love that she shows it and this is why they have different dreams and want to use her husband’s money in their ventures.
Nevertheless, just like her tree aliments under her care, this family still goes strong, and this explains why they finally buy her idea of buying a house.
The issue of family matters and power relations come out clearly in these two stories. The Youngers go through issues like the death of a loved one just like Troy’s family in Fences.
Family clashes are prominent in these stories and even though the clashes of different nature, the bottom line is, they exist. Power relations come out clearly. Troy notices that blacks are cannot drive garbage trucks, not that they cannot learn, but because it is not allowed.
On the other hand, The Youngers are not wanted in the Clybourne Park neighborhood. All these results from the fact that they are blacks. Use of drama elements is similar. The plot is the same starting with exposition, complication, climax, and finally resolution.
Use of symbolism is also outstanding. However, there is a difference in the way these drama elements are used.
While symbolism comes out clearly in Fences, the same is not strongly reflected in A Rising of the Sun. Family matters and power relations are two themes shared in these two stories.
DiYanni, Robert. “Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama.” New York: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc, 2004.
Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Rising in the Sun.” Web.
Wilson, August. “Fences.” New York: Penguin group, 1986.
Fences: On Stubbornness and Baseball Essay
Fences is a tragic play by August Wilson, premiered in 1985. It tells of a black man in the 1950’s USA, Troy Maxson, and his relationships with his family and only friend, Bono. The play received critical acclaim, and, in 2013, a film adaptation. As a tragedy, Fences shows its central character’s downfall, caused by his flaws. This essay will examine some of the characters and themes of the play.
The entirety of the play takes place in front of Troy Maxson’s, the main character’s house. As he interacts with and eventually alienates his friend and family, the viewer learns more about the personal flaws — stubbornness, inflexibility, selfishness — which causes him to conflict with those who trust him. After he drives away his wife, brother, two sons, and only friend, he has one final bout with Death — whom he describes as a white, hooded figure — and dies. His broken family reunites for his funeral, and his brother, who believes himself to be Archangel Gabriel, blows his trumpet in an attempt to open the gates to Heaven.
Baseball is a significant theme in the play and serves as a central part of Troy’s character and history. His greatest regret is his failure to make it into the Major League despite allegedly being a sufficiently capable player. He blames systemic racism for it: “don’t come telling me I was too old. I just wasn’t the right color” (Wilson, 2017, p. 42). Baseball metaphors occupy a significant part of Troy’s vernacular, such as referring to mistakes as “strikes,” or his place in life as “standing on first [base].” Even the play’s title, Fences, is a reference to “swinging for the fences” in addition to the literal and metaphorical fences Troy builds that keep the other characters out — or in. However, there is an argument that “the entire social, racial, and political world view Troy derives from baseball is misguided” (Letzler, 2014, p. 302). Whether one agrees with this or not, America’s national pastime plays an integral part in the story.
As Troy has three children a significant part from each other, the difference between generations is put into perspective. It has been pointed out that these children were born “precisely seventeen years apart, represent Troy’s paternal responsibilities to three successive generations” (Nadel, 2018, p. 74). While his relationship with Raynell is understandably short, and Lyons’ story happens mostly off-stage, it is his lack of understanding and subsequent falling out with Cory that the viewers see unfold.
The play’s characters are defined by their relationship with Troy Maxston, each highlighting a different flaw in him. It is his stubbornness that drives away his middle son, Cory. He gets invited to college on a football scholarship, but Troy goes to significant lengths to prevent him from being accepted. He claims that the same racism that kept him out of the Major League will affect his son, as well. Even after being shown successful non-white athletes, he refuses to admit that times have changed and heed anyone’s experiences but his own. The play does not make it clear whether his fatherly protectiveness or jealousy cause that his son might succeed where he failed. In the end, the viewers see Cory making his way in life, having joined the US Marine Corps.
Lyons, representing the second generation of the Maxstons, followed a different path from Cory. While his father had dominated Cory’s life, Troy was absent for most of Lyons’ childhood and youth. Lyons also has a strong aspiration his father disapproves of: music. This disapproval is not as evident as with Cory, but Troy again refuses to acknowledge it, or see him perform when he joins a band. Their relationship seems to be purely transactional, as Lyons visits occasionally to borrow ten dollars. However, it also shows that Troy feels some obligation or duty towards his son since he lends him the money. Later, when Lyons establishes a source of income and tries to repay his debts, his father refuses to take it or not present at all. By the end, Lyons finds himself serving a prison sentence for fraud, but finds the people to form a band even there, and intends to continue his musical career after his release.
His wife Rose falls victim to his selfishness and unwillingness to let an opportunity pass. He appears bored and complacent with his family life, driving him to have an affair with another woman. Although Troy has difficulty justifying it, he feels no remorse for it, again falling back on his baseball metaphors: “after eighteen years I wanted to steal second” (Wilson, 2017, p. 73). Rose confides that she had also thought about an affair and reminds him that he is not “the only one who’s got wants and needs” (Wilson, 2017, p. 74). It falls on deaf ears as her husband, again, refuses to acknowledge anyone’s perspective but his own.
Troy’s relationship with Gabriel, his war veteran brother, is already deteriorating at the beginning of the play. Gabriel received a large pension from the government, which Troy spent to buy their house. This decision is initially justified since Gabe’s head injury left him “in no condition to manage that money” (Wilson, 2017, p. 31). However, he eventually desires a degree of independence and moves out, noting at every visit that “Troy’s mad at me” (Wilson, 2017, p. 28). Finally, Troy signs the papers that allow his brother to be institutionalized, claiming that he had signed nothing but a release form, but since he is illiterate, the authorities might have tricked him.
Fences uses its themes to connect with a broad audience. The play’s tragedy and Troy’s flaws are universal, not uniquely African-American or American in general. While racism plays a significant role in the main character’s worldview, the play, its events show that although it may not be gone entirely, things have improved over his lifetime. It is telling that when he speaks about his fight with Death, Troy describes a white-robed figure with a hood. This similarity has not gone unnoticed: “by depicting Death as a Klansman, Troy explicitly links his wrestling match to his struggles against racial injustice” (Davis, 2014, p. 57). Despite this view, other characters suggest that it was his advancing age that prevented him from furthering his baseball career, and no overt racism is shown in the play.
Fences is a modern drama, using the metaphor of baseball to show one man’s family destroyed through nobody’s faults but his own. He might have had the best intentions, but his stubbornness, short-sightedness and lack of empathy take the best of him in the end, costing him everyone he has loved. These flaws are universal, and the characters, including Troy, are presented as sympathetic and believable. The setting may be uniquely American, but under the surface, humans are still humans, and tragedy, drama, and Death spare no one.
Davis, A. R. (2014) ‘Wrestling Jacob in the Book of Genesis and August Wilson’s Fences‘, Literature and Theology, 29(1), pp. 47-65.
Letzler, D. (2014) ‘Walking around the Fences: Troy Maxson and the ideology of “going down swinging”’, African American Review, 47(2-3), pp. 301-312.
Nadel, A. (2018) The theatre of August Wilson. London: Bloomsbury.
Wilson, A. (2017) Fences. Web.
August Wilson’s the “Fences” Literature Analysis Essay
August Wilson, the author of the “social realist” drama Fences, gives audiences a glimpse into the life of an African American family trying to gain respect and respectability (Kushner). They are trying to accomplish this at a time when segregation was still nearly universal. The fences that appear in the title, and often throughout the drama serve to represent some of the challenges the family faces. Fences are rich in symbolic possibilities. They are barriers for property lines, for keeping livestock in, or predators out.
They segregate, exclude, protect, and even imprison. They also symbolize all the ways that this family tries to keep the things that threaten them out and their family unity in. Whether the fences that the family erects, both symbolically and physically, are successful in preventing the negative and promoting the positive, the audience remains uncertain.
The yard fence that sits unfinished at the beginning of the play is one example of this use of symbolism. It parallels the career in baseball that Troy Maxson wanted to pursue (Wilson, Fences Act I, Scene i). Like the fence, one of his major life ambitions remains unachieved for much of the play. It sits there, reminding him of what he has not accomplished. Unlike baseball, however, he finally builds the fence (Wilson, Fences Act II, Scene iv). The problem of not achieving everything one hopes to in life strikes a nearly universal chord.
Fences also demarcate private property, which, in this instance, is a sign of the improved status of African Americans in the 1950s (Nadel 86). As Sanders notes, the symbol of the fence refers to the historically painful connection,” between property rights and human rights, for African Americans” (Sanders).
As August Wilson points out in his introduction to the first act, the northern cities that African Americans migrated to in search of a better life were only grudgingly welcoming and permitted the migrants only the lowest-paid jobs (Wilson, Fences Act I, Scene i).
Thus, although Troy could legally own home, he was able to acquire it only by appropriating a portion of Gabriel’s disability payment from the Army (Wilson, Fences Act II, Scene v). Nonetheless, he is fiercely proud of, “his own house and yard that he done paid for with the sweat of his brow” (Wilson, Fences Act II, Scene iv).
The fence, or his intention to build a fence in response to his wife’s request, represents his pride in what he has managed to accomplish as a man, a husband, and a bread-winner. He wants to demonstrate that he is strong and competent as a man, in terms of which he is capable of.
He is so committed to being a good husband, according to his own lights, that he describes his role as a husband as giving Rose everything, even “the lint from my pockets” (Wilson, Fences Act I, Scene iii). Part of being a good husband is his desire to fulfill his wife’s wish for the respectability of a fence, even though he comes home tired each evening.
The fence, as a long-established and highly visible marker of ownership, marks the territory in which he exerts authority (Nadel 86). This is the space in which he has the prerogative to say who can stay and who must go. This includes throwing his son Cory out (Wilson, Fences Act II, Scene v). He even blusters at “Mr. Death” that he will, “build me a fence” and Death must, “stay on the other side” (Wilson, Fences Act II, Scene ii), unsuccessfully of course.
Rose, in singing, “Jesus be a fence around me every day,” expresses a longing for God’s protection from evils around her and her family (Wilson, Fences Act I, Scene ii). This is an example of both August Wilson’s use of the song for what Murphy calls the “spiritual and metaphorical,” and direct symbolism of the image of fences (Murphy 257).
Rose desires a stable family life, seeking what Wilson called the “inherent values that are a part of all human life,” and which were often denied to African Americans (Wilson, The Ground on Which I Stand). This is a step up for her because as Rose says, “I ain’t never wanted no half nothing in my family. My whole family is half.
Everybody got different fathers and mothers” (Wilson, Fences Act II, Scene i). The fence she wants is supposed to help her, “hold on to you all,” and keep this sort of family disruption away, but it cannot keep Troy out of trouble after all (Wilson, Fences Act II, Scene i).
Throughout the play, the image of Fences reappears to evoke ideas of all sorts of barriers. As Bono says, “Some people build fences to keep people out… And other people build fences to keep people in” (Wilson, Fences Act II, Scene i).
Fences, for Wilson, represent unmet ambitions, the achievement of property ownership, Troy’s commitment to marriage, his hard-won right to exert authority, Rose’s attempt to acquire spiritual protection, and an effort to preserve family unity. In its richness of meaning, the symbol offenses, both in the title and throughout the drama, evoke a moving range of ideas that bring the life and struggles of African Americans into sharper focus for the audience.
Kushner, Tony. “Author Notes.” Program. Costa Mesa: South Coast Repertory Company, 2010. Web.
Murphy, Brenda. “A Review: Understanding August Wilson by Mary Bogumil.” MELUS 26.1 (2001): 256-258. Web.
Nadel, Alan. “Boundaries, logisitics, and identity: The property of metaphor in “Fences” and “Joe Turner’s come and gone”.” Nadel, Alan. May Alll Your Fences Have Gates: Essays on the Drama of August Wilson. Ed. Alan Nadel. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1993. Web.
Sanders, Leslie. “Review of “May all Your Fences have Gates”: Essays on the Drama of August Wilson. by Alan Nadel.” African American Review Vol. 31, No. 1 (Spring, 1997), pp. 151-154 (n.d.): 152. Web.
Wilson, August. “Fences.” Titleofcompilation. Ed. Editorsfirst name Editorslastname. cityofpublisher: Publisherofcompilation, Year. 1833-1883. Print.
—. The Ground on Which I Stand. New York: The Theatre Communications Group, 2001. Web.
“Fences” by August Wilson Literature Analysis Essay
Reputedly, Fences is one of the most famous dramas in American literature. In 1983 August Wilson wrote a story of a man who built fences around himself. The play is full of metaphors concerning fences which reveal the major theme and idea, building fences. Depicting the life of the average African American family Wilson articulates the universal truth that if “someone builds a fence, the builder is at once fencing in and fencing out” (Bloom 139).
It is important to point out that Wilson portrays negative outcomes of such building in a very lively manner. The dramatic structure of the play, use of numerous metaphors, and, of course, depiction of such a modern hero as Troy make Wilson’s ideas obtain physical form.
Dramatic structure of the play
Admittedly, drama “is not flexible as other forms of literature” (McMahan et al. 736). The playwright is limited in time and space, so it is essential to be precise when writing a play. Wilson manages to reveal his ideas within the necessary limits. The story is told in two major parts. The first part is revealed in the very beginning of the play, more so, in the very setting of the play: “a small dirt yard, partially fenced” (Wilson 788).
In this first part of the play Wilson portrays the process of building fences. Troy’s memories, Troy’s dialogues with the members of his family make the viewer see how Troy is building his fences, and why he is doing that. The image of the incomplete fence enhances the idea of building fences.
The second part of the play is its very ending. This part reveals the outcomes of fences building. Troy is buried. Now he is completely fenced from the rest of the world. The fence around the yard is completed. This part of the play is concerned with the outcomes of fence building. Wilson draws a conclusion in this part: a man, who is trying to build a fence around himself, manages to do it, but he fences himself in, and makes this person absolutely lonely.
This specific structure makes the play really appealing since the playwright ends his story with a strong and evocative scene when insane brother of Troy, Gabriel, opens the heavenly gates to his brother and makes him free from the fences Troy was building during his life. Of course, the viewer understands that the fences are destroyed too late.
This makes the end very strong, since the viewer starts thinking about his/her own fences. It goes without saying that such a dramatic structure serves the major aim of the play: to reveal the negative outcomes of building fences.
Troy – the modern hero
Admittedly, to reveal his ideas Wilson uses one more tool. He creates a lively modern character. It is necessary to point out that Wilson’s Troy is one of the brightest examples of the modern hero since he is not only bad or good, only tragic or comic (McMahan et al. 786). Troy is a living man who is characterized by myriads of good and bad features.
Sometimes he is too distant from his wife and children. For instance, in his talk with his friend Troy confesses about his love affair, but at the same time it is possible to feel that he loves his wife and sometime can express his affection (Wilson 790-791). Troy can be characterized as a stern father, but he still loves his children. Even in his disapproval of his son’s longing to enter big sport it is possible to feel care.
Troy simply does not want his son, Cory, to experience the same disappointment: “I decided seventeen years ago that boy wasn’t getting involved in no sports. Not after what they did to me in the sports” (Wilson 806).
Of course, times has changed and Cory has a real chance to become a famous and successful player, but Troy does not see the changes because the fence he built in his mind is too high to see it (Wilson 805). Thus, Wilson creates a hero who is, so to speak, multifaceted. This characteristic feature of the modern hero Troy makes it possible to understand why he built the fence around him.
Metaphors and symbols – direct messages to the audience
It goes without saying that the image of the main character and his fences is enhanced by the use of metaphors and symbols which play essential role in revealing the playwright’s ideas. Admittedly, the major symbol of the play is physical representation of the fence, which is incomplete in the first part of the play and is finished in the second, culmination part of the play.
The viewer is exposed to the major idea of the play all the time. Troy is building a fence around his yard in the real world and around himself in his mind. He wants to defend himself from the hostile world, but instead he isolates himself. Troy’s fences do not let him see numerous opportunities which appear in a rapidly changing world.
Interestingly, Troy also uses numerous metaphors dreaming about “swinging for the fences” (Bloom 139). Wilson’s main character does not admit he has built fences (does not see new opportunities and does not always let somebody in), but he still wants to escape from the metaphorical fences. Troy wants to go beyond his own fences. These metaphors also enhance the idea of being imprisoned in one’s own fences.
One of the most evocative symbols of the play is the final performance of Gabriel who is breaking the fences for his brother and sets him free. Notably, Wilson articulates an idea that in many cases only insane can ruin fences whereas “normal” people build new ones.
This idea is articulated by the scene when Lyons is trying to stop Gabriel when he is “opening” the gates for Troy (Wilson 834). Admittedly, these are only some of the brightest metaphors used in the play. And the whole scope of these metaphors reveals the major idea of the play.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that Wilson made his idea of the negative outcomes of building fences absolutely explicit in his famous play. More so, specific structure of the play, numerous metaphors and symbols create a complete picture of fences which can exist in human life.
Moreover, Wilson’s modern hero, Troy, is a kind of illustration of a fenced individual. Wilson reveals his sorrows and his happy moments, but apart from all this Wilson claims that any fences lead to loneliness. Notable, Wilson’s expressive and emotional play makes people think of their own fences and their own ways in the world.
Bloom, Harold. August Wilson. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2009.
McMahan, Elizabeth, Susan Day, Robert Funk. Literature and the Writing Process. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.
Wilson, August. “Fences.” Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan Day, Robert Funk. Literature and the Writing Process. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. 788-834.
Rose Maxon Character in the Play “Fences” by August Wilson Essay
Rose Maxon is the main female character of August Wilson’s famous play Fences. The feminine spiritual strength of Rose, who is physically weak, is opposed by the author to the manly physical strength of Troy, who has a lack of psychic and emotional strength. Rose is portrayed as a strong woman due to the ability to oppose her husband, readiness to accept dramatic events in her life and overcome them, and spiritual strength expressed in wisdom and unconditional love to her dearest ones.
Though Rose is married to the man who has patriarchal views and seems to be dominating in the family, she is strong enough to oppose him and express her opinions. First of all, Rose opposes Troy when he is doing the wrong things. She openly says about her disagreement with Troy’s forbidding their son Cory to go to college on a football scholarship.
She also criticizes him for refusing giving money to his elder son Lyons and manages to force him to change his mind by saying “Let the boy have ten dollars, Troy” (Wilson 11; act I, scene I). This situation reveals the strong impact Rose has on Troy’s actions. Besides, though Troy behaves like a husband demanding full respect and obedience from his wife using the clichés of patriarchal men like “This is men talk, woman,” Rose often participates in Troy’s conversations with other men and oppose the opinions he expresses (Wilson 5; act I, scene I).
She also permits herself criticize Troy and say things that can potentially hurt his ego and point to his weak sides: “Troy, why don’t you admit you was too old to play in the major league? For once… Why don’t you admit that?” (Wilson 20; act I, scene III). Except verbal opposing to the husband, Rose also dares to refuse Troy when he tries to kiss her by saying: “Troy, you better leave me alone” (Wilson 16; act I, scene III). This detail demonstrates that Rose is not afraid of her husband and has enough strength to make him respect her wishes. She is neither afraid of demonstrating her emotions to him.
She confesses that considering Troy the person she has to live for was her choice, and nobody forced her to do it: “I took on his life as mine and mixed up the pieces so that you couldn’t hardly tell which was which anymore. It was my choice. It was my life and I didn’t have to live it like that” (Wilson 46; act II, scene V). However, after discovering Troy’s betrayal, she confidently proclaims: “This child got a mother. But you are a womanless man” (Wilson 38; act II, scene I).
Though Rose plays the role of a housewife and recognizes Troy’s leading role in the family, she is not portrayed as a weak woman unable to oppose her husband. On the contrary, the author introduces the readers to the woman who has a strong influence on her husband and expresses her wishes and opinions openly.
Another aspect of Rose’s strength is related to her readiness to face difficult situations and overcome them. Opposite to Troy, who is stuck in his past failures and regrets, Rose demonstrates the ability to move over the bad situations. This feature is brightly illustrated by Rose’s behavior after discovering her husband’s faithlessness.
Even though she is shocked by Troy’s affair with Alberta and the news about their child, she finds enough strength in herself to try to save her family and find a solution. Her strong personality enables her to gain her self-control and cold-mindedness and try to deal with the problem. Even though Troy does not seem to be eager to refuse from his affair, Rose insists: “I am your wife. Don’t push me away” (Wilson 37; act II; scene II).
Only a very strong woman can behave like this after experiencing a huge stress related to revealing the faithlessness of the husband. Rose’s ability to overcome the past and continue living in spite of grief is also reflected in her ability to forgive. Even though she is deeply offended by Troy’s betrayal, after his death she behaves like a devoted wife who forgives the past mistakes of her husband. When Cory refuses to go to Troy’s funeral, she says: “Boy, hush your mouth.
That’s your daddy you talking about. I don’t want hear that kind of talk this morning” (Wilson 45; act II, scene V). Only a strong woman can manage not to let her feelings of resentment to her husband influence the attitudes of their children to him. The author reveals Rose’s strong personality by demonstrating her ability to move on and forgive for the sake of her family.
I think, the brightest illustration of the fact that Rose is a strong woman is her feminine spiritual strength. Her main strength is related to her ability to share the love with the dearest ones and judge the life situations and people’s feelings wisely. Being an ordinary housewife, Rose surprises the reader with numerous manifestations of her huge wisdom throughout the text. She wisely sees the initial motives of the behavior of Cory: “Everything that boy do… He do for you. He wants you to say “Good job, son.” That’s all” (Wilson 21; act I, scene III).
She also reveals Troy’s motives: “Your daddy wanted you to be everything he wasn’t” (Wilson 21; act II, scene V). Her wisdom is also expressed in her understanding of a main woman’s role in a family life: “And whenever you was going… I wanted to be there with you. Cause you was my husband. Cause that’s the way I was gonna survive as your wife” (Wilson 34; act II, scene I).
Her wisdom is also reflected in her decision to raise the daughter of her husband and his mistress: “And you can’t visit the sins of the father upon the child” (Wilson 38; act II, scene I). Besides the wisdom, Rose demonstrates the strength of feminine cordiality and kindness. She gives her love to all members of the family and agrees to raise Raynell because she knows that “a motherless child has got a hard time” (Wilson 38; act II, scene I).
The main source of Rose’s strength is her loving, kind heart enabling her to overcome any distress. Rose’s spiritual strength is opposed to Tray’s egoism encouraging him to consider himself a victim and get stuck in regrets.
Rose Maxon is presented by Wilson as a strong woman capable of opposing her husband and dealing with difficult situations with the help of her feminine strength given to her by her warm and loving heart.
Wilson, August. Fences. 1987. PDF file. 2015. Web.