Essay on Fences Death Of A Salesman PowerPoint 1

Submitted By tmc771
Words: 1077
Pages: 5


August Wilson and The Century
Historical Setting of Fences
Fences in Production

Fences (1985) is one of
10 plays August Wilson wrote to chronicle ordinary African-American family life from 19002000. This group of plays is know as the Century
Cycle, or Pittsburgh
Cycle. Fences represents

The Century Cycle

In the Century Cycle, Wilson dramatizes African American experience and heritage in the twentieth century, with a play for each decade.
Almost all of the 10 plays are set in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, where he was born (in 1945) and grew up.

The Century Cycle

Wilson's extraordinary lifeworkcompleted just before his death in
October 2005.
August Wilson's Century Cycle is "one of the most ambitious dramatic projects ever undertaken" (The New
York Times).
Widely acclaimed, Fences went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama.


What might the Century Cycle reveal about the African American experience that 10 unrelated plays by the same playwright might not?

Fences presents a slice-of-life in a black tenement in (Pittsburgh?) set in the late 1950s through 1965. The main character, Troy Maxson, is a garbage collector who has taken great pride in keeping his family together and providing for them. Troy's rebellion and frustration set the tone for the play as he struggles for fairness in a society which seems to offer none.

Fences (cont.)

The father and son relationship between
Troy and Cory is explored as a central part of the drama. Their relationship becomes complicated by strong feelings of pride and independence on both sides.

Fences is both unique to the plight of
African Americans and universal in its depiction of the human condition. The father-son and husband-wife relationships cross both unique and universal boundaries. Fences: a response to
Death of a Salesman

Fences can be read as August
Wilson’s answer to Arthur Miller’s classic American play, Death of a
Death of a Salesman details the downward spiral of one man who is unable, through internal and external forces, to attain his American Dream.

Connections: Fences and Death of a

Both plays are set post-WWII

– Death of a Salesman was written in 1949 and set in its present day.
– Fences is set in the 1950s, completing the middle decade of the Century Cycle

Both protagonists have a powerful, if faulty, sense of self of mythic proportions.
Both protagonists battle with internal and external demons.
Each play explores the relationship between the flawed father and his sons.


“August Wilson…has taken the responsibility of telling the tale of the encounter of the released black slaves with a vigorous and ruthless growing America decade by decade.
Fences encompasses the 1950s and a black family trying to put down roots in the slag slippery hills of a middle
American urban industrial city…”


What do you think is meant by the
“vigorous and ruthless growing
What growing opportunities exist for
African Americans in the 1950s?
What ruthlessness might be encountered along with this growth?

Death of a Salesman

“The Depression of the 1930s seemed to break the promises American had made to its citizens. The stock market crash of
1929, it was assumed, ended a particular version of history: optimistic, confident.
The American Dream faded. And yet, not so. Myths at potent as that, illusions with such a purchase on the national psyche, are not so easily denied.”


How is the African American psyche distinct from the national psyche? What has shaped it over time? (Psyche: the soul, spirit, and mind) How does the idea of America’s
“promise” apply differently to
African Americans?

Death of a Salesman

In an immigrant society, which has, by definition, chosen to reject the past, faith in the future is not a matter of choice.
When today fails to