12 March 2013
An Analysis of Fences
Many dramas were satires written to make a point to the public or to simply make observations on certain relevant subjects for the time. August Wilson did just that in his drama Fences as he delved into the evolution of black culture during the 1950’s and 1960’s along with the issues concerning African-Americans. Wilson used the setting of these times to show the resulting tolls that could be taken by a person. The story surrounds Troy Maxon as it is told from his point of view. From his perspective, the audience sees his sense of failure and his diminishing relationship with his family. There are reflections of his life in the lives of his children, and his attitudes towards these reflections show how Troy really felt. One can see the regret Troy has with how his life turned out and the resent he has for his family, however, he still feels responsible for the family. The relationships between Troy and his two sons and wife are reflections of Troy’s true self. There is also great symbolism in Troy’s relationships with others and in the fence he is charged with building. Reading into these situations, one can see how these times affected the life of a man and what it meant for others around him.
At first, the audience is introduced to a seemingly happy life, but not soon after, it can be seen that Troy is not quite happy with the way things are. For example, Troy is brave enough to question how the system is set up by making note that there are no black garbage truck drivers. He makes a point in saying that blacks were only allowed to pick up the trash and not drive the trucks. This is not the first time Troy has to deal with such segregation holding him back however, as he dealt with segregation in his baseball career; this failed career is the main reason behind his sense of failure. As a promising player in the African American leagues, Troy was an excellent player in his day. But by the time the baseball leagues were finally desegregated, Troy had aged and was not quite what he used to be. So, due to his age, he was not good enough to make the professional White’s league. Having to settle for a menial job, Troy did not want to experience this again; although by speaking out, Troy took a huge risk seeing as he could have been fired for this. However, this is not enough to save Troy of his failure. The audience can see the inner turmoil and the sense that Troy was not good enough.
Troy’s sense of failure also plays a huge role in his relationship with his children, as he saw it reflected in their lives. Troy never really had a problem with his oldest son, although the audience can see that Troy was not very loving towards his family, but the reason behind this is how he felt about his son’s life choices. Lyons was in the music career, but he was not very successful. Troy saw the reflection of his failures and did not view his eldest son as better than him, so he had no problem with Lyons. He felt that Lyons would one day accept his failure in music and take a menial job and raise a family just as Troy himself had. From this relationship, the audience can see that Troy did not love his children for who they were, rather he thought of them as how they compared to him.
The relationship between Troy and his younger son Cory was quite different than that of Troy and Lyons. Cory was a football star and had the opportunity to do great things with this talent, had it not been for his father that is. When Troy sees that his son has the opportunity to go to college to play ball, he does not accept it. He will not allow his son to play football, instead he makes him work his job and reject the offers. This stems from Troy’s own failures in sports as he was not good enough to make the league when it was desegregated. He does not want his son to succeed where he failed, and if