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The play “Fences”, written by August Wilson, is the author’s most popular work. It revolves around the Maxson family; their lives as well as their relationships. The play was written in the year 1983 and it was from this work that the author earned his first “Pulitzer Prize” (Bradford Para1).
In the play, Troy Maxson is the protagonist. It commences with a sociable conversation between Troy and Bono during the payday. In this talk, Troy narrates about the way he was inquiring from his boss by the name Mr. Rand about the reasons why the blacks were not permitted to become drivers of the garbage trucks.
Later in the play, the affair which Troy engaged in with a lady known as Alberta is exposed. However, the existence of Alberta is only known to us, as readers, during the time she is pregnant and in the course of her death when she is giving birth to her daughter, Raynell, the product of the illicit relationship. In the last act of the play, Raynell is seven years of age and she is happy.
Her brother, Cory, the Son of Troy returns from war and is unhappy and does not accept to attend the funeral of the father because of the bitter feeling he had held for long. August Wilson’s “Fences” makes us, as readers, to rethink about the position that is held by the African American in regard to the political and cultural contexts at different points in history; and the character of Troy aims to remove the social stereotype linked with particular African American men’s being lazy, irresponsibility and lack of purpose.
In a similar manner as a large number of other tragic heroes, Troy engages in doing what he believes are the right things to do. Although those around him caution him, making him to be aware of the fact that the things he does or wants to do have tragic outcomes, he does not listen to them but goes ahead to follow his own illusions. Sometimes he ends up “missing the mark”. An illustration of the way Troy “misses the mark” in the play is by considering his relationship with the son, Cory. The son, just like the father, loves sports.
This son is chosen to have a college “football scholarship” and this makes Cory to be filled with joy. On the contrary, Troy is not happy with this and stands against everything and does not want the son to go off to play this game. This discouragement from Troy results from the fact that he was not allowed playing “pro baseball” in his life. He insists on preventing the son from going to play football basing on the reason that he was not ready to see his son go through a similar heartache that he went through himself.
People around him try to convince him with an intention of letting him to know that these are new times and therefore Cory will be in a better position. For instance, his wife says, “they got lots of colored boys playing ball now…baseball and football” (1.1.76). Bono, his friend tells him, “times have changed, Troy, you just come along too early” (Wilson, 1.1.77).Troy does not consider any of these comments and eventually tells Cory that, “the Whiteman aint gonna let you get nowhere with that football, no way” (Wilson, 1.3.78).
Troy does not accept that times have changed and he is not ready to pay attention to forewarning signs. Rather than accepting what he is being told by those around him, he follows his own way which is on the basis of his own illusions. Through his resistance, he ends up destroying the dreams of his son. However, although the son feels that the father is being jealous of him by preventing him to peruse the sports career, but in Troy’s judgment, he knows that he is doing this as a caring and responsible father who is protecting his down son.
Troy was a hardworking man and this could be seen through the commitment he showed in his work and the eventual promotion he achieved. For about twenty years, he labored from “the back of the garbage truck, along side his friend Bono” (Bradford Para 17). These two pulled garbage all over the region.
However, Troy was not satisfied but wanted a promotion, but getting a promotion was not an easy undertaking due to racial discrimination. Eventually, Troy was able to be promoted, climbing the ladder to becoming a garbage truck driver. However, this causes him to become distanced from his friends and the rest of the community to which he belongs (African American).
This play makes one to rethink about the position that is held by the African American in regard to the political and cultural contexts at different points in history; and the character of Troy aims to remove the social stereotype linked with particular African American men’s being lazy, irresponsibility and lack of purpose. Through the relationship between Troy and his son, Cory, the reader is able to realize how times are changing; both in the political context as well as the cultural context.
More so, Troy presents himself as a man who is very hardworking and not lazy and has a purpose in life. It is through this that the stereotype of some African American being lazy and lacking purpose in life, is broken. In addition, although Troy “misses the mark” but he also presents himself as a caring father by protecting his son from going through the same heartache which he himself went through.
Bradford, Wade. August Wilson’s “Fences”, 2011. Web.
Wilson, August. Fences. New York: Paw Prints, 2008.