Fences, by August Wilson, is a compelling play which delves deep into the mind of a man, an African American man whose life has given much to regret but so much more to be thankful for. After reading such a work of literary tutelage, Ive come to the conclusion that it is in fact our lifes difficulties that allow us to celebrate and appreciate the fortunes that are bestowed on us.
The story takes place post World War II. Our main character, Troy Maxson, is an uptight city worker who is a proud husband and father. Though considering his treatment of the two, it could be difficult to recognize. He speaks harshly to them, as well as his sibling, Gabe whose mental functions awkwardly resulting from the metal plate in his hand from an incident in his time in the war. Troy also talks seemingly down to his best friend Bono, and oldest son Lyons. Every pay day, Lyons asks his father for money, and this is a statement made by his father, You too lazy to work and wanna know why you aint got what I got. (p.1581) Even though his words come across as angry, his heart still appears to beat with a love and compassion for them all. More evidence of this treatment is found in Act 1, as Troy shares his point with Bono all while referring to him by a derogatory name and seeming to often questioning his intellect. Aw nigger, look here.I know you. (p. 1574) However, upon completing this intriguing read, one can conclude that his treatment of others is a direct reflection of his resentment towards society, or the white establishment, which tends to favor whites on the job and in sports. As a middle aged man whose best years are behind him, Troy chooses to take his frustrations out on those who care about him the most. As a boy, Troy feared his father for years, until an act of cowardness abruptly changed his opinion. Even though Troy also engaged in an unfaithful act the two situations were quite different. On one hand, Troys actions of infidelity were a contemplated series of actions, spanning the course of several months. Troys father had an isolated incident of passion. In either case, Troys relationship with his son would have the fruits of a mangled relationship between Troy and his father.
The story opens with Troy and Bono discussing what may happen as a result of Troy complaining to his supervisor at work. Troy has a problem with white employees being allowed to drive the trucks while all black workers lift the rubbish. I went to Mr. Rand and asked him, Why? Why you got the white mens driving and the colored lifting? You think only white fellows got sense enough to drive a truck? (p.1574) Troys subdued anger from this prompts him to mistreat others. Troys resentment for life allows him to justify cheating on a loving wife of 18 years. His distrust in a black mans ability to thrive in life causes him to ruin his sons opportunity to experience life in a fuller sense than he had. Troy cheats on his wife with a thick in the thighs woman from Florida. (1575) His behavior forced his brother to move out into someones basement, even though his home was purchased with his brothers money. In my opinion, Troys most selfish act of being mad at the world came when Cory received a scholarship to play football in college, and Troy ruined it by having his son removed from the team and cancelled the recruiter. Troy was upset with his own life, and found ways to compensate for it by finding an outside influence to manipulate.
Troy Maxson was a self-conscious, overweight, wanna be baseball player, with constant delusions of potential grandeur. He believes himself to be a professional baseball player who never got his chance. He belittles the progression of other baseball players, such as Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson. I done seen a hundred niggers play baseball better than Jackie Robinson. Hell I know some teams that Jackie Robinson couldnt even make! Jackie Robinson wasnt nobody. (p. 1577) Even though he didnt have a license, he felt as though he shouldve been allowed to drive trucks, like the white man. He had an affair, and didnt feel the need to be questioned by his wife. He was so caught up on control; he didnt realize what he had done to his sons future. Considering his fragile psyche, Id say Troy was an extremely weak character. His tendency to degrade and insult his loved ones is glaring proof of this. An individual such as this cant function without a false sense of superiority. He needed to feel like he was above them. In contrast, though Troy had major social issues, he dealt with adversity quite well. Once his lover became pregnant, he was man enough to go to his wife and come clean. When he and his father fell out, he wasted no time in transforming from a 14year old to a man. The tone of this story may vary, depending on the reader. As an African American, I found the tail dark and gloomy, with potential to worsen as the story unfolded. Troy Maxtons entire outlook on life is reflected constantly in his negative pessimistic attitude. He only helps to strengthen the saddening tone of the story.
In dealing with the actions of his father, the prejudice on the job, and the box he felt his life was caged in, Troy consistently projected commitment to family that could easily be overshadowed by his somewhat evil behavior. Despite ruining his sons football future, there was no doubt that Cory was well fed, groomed, dressed, and housed. Despite his cheating, he would give majority of his paycheck to his wife, Rose. Finally, regardless of the racism and mistreatment at work, Troy understood the value of hard work. Values he attempted to instill in the children he fathered and the friends he knew.