Essay on Fences Death Of A Salesman PowerPoint 1

Submitted By tmc771
Words: 1093
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

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
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