Fences byAugust Wilson Rachel Massaro, Katie Graham, Charlotte Horn, and Bridget McAndrew
Fences • This play circles around Troy Maxson, a stubborn realist who has a wife named Rose, a son with her named Cory and a son from a previous marriage named Lyons. He also has a brother named Gabriel, who was mentally injured after serving in World War Two. Troy is very strict with Cory and won’t let him go to college to play football, which is the main problem through the whole novel. This play represents the struggles that African Americans faced throughout this time period and the toll it takes on a family going through hard times.
Characters • Troy Maxson • Main character, stubborn, father of Cory and Lyons, husband of Rose, realist • Used to be a good baseball player, but didn’t get the chance to get very far because there was still a lot of discrimination and prejudice when he was younger and playing • Struggles with coming to terms that the times he is currently living in are changing, there are many new opportunities for African Americans to succeed, and he takes it out on his son, Cory, who is looking to play football • Crushes his son’s dreams that are very possible with today’s opportunities because he is stuck in the past
Characters (cont.) • Rose - • Troy’s wife, Cory and Lyons’ mother • Tries to be the mediator between the fights Troy gets into with his sons • Makes an effort to convince Troy of the times they are living in and the opportunities they have nowadays, especially with the situation between Troy and Cory about Cory playing football • Stays with Troy even though she shouldn’t (ex. Situation with Raynell) • Cory - • Rose and Troy’s son • Wants to play football, athletic like his father, but Troy won’t let him pursue it • The only one in the Maxson family who is going to be able to go on to college and make a name for himself, if only Troy allowed him to continue playing football
Characters (cont.) • Lyons - • Troy’s son from a previous marriage • Kind of the outcast of the family, very involved in music, plays down at the bars but Troy never goes to see him • Comes by a few times throughout the play asking Troy for money, it is a routine • Embodies the Romantic side of the novel • Bono - • Troy’s best friend, they both work together as garbage men • They sit and drink on the porch together every Friday night, Bono mainly listens to Troy as Troy talks and talks
Characters (cont.) • Gabriel - • Troy’s brother, his only relative we know of in the play • He has a metal plate in his head that has left him to be mentally disabled after serving in World War II • His disability makes him think he is the angel Gabriel • Expresses Romantic elements throughout the play similar to Lyons • Raynell - • Troy’s son that he has with another woman, Alberta, who ends up dying giving birth • Although Rose is very angry at him, she takes the baby in, seeing it as unfair to punish the innocent child on behalf of Troy’s mistakes
“I ain’t worried about them firing me, they gonna fire me cause I asked a question? That’s all I did. Why you got the white men driving and the colored lifting?” (page 2) This quote is significant because it shows the struggle African Americans were facing during this time period and even though times were changing, they were still facing hardships in the work place. This represents the realism in the play because his friend Bono is concerned about the consequences of his actions, which was a reoccurring problem in realist novels.
“You can’t visit the sins of the father upon the child.” (page 79) Raynell is brought home with Troy after Alberta dies, and Rose does not want to accept the baby at first, but then she does because she realizes the child is innocent. It isn’t fair that this child should have to grow up in a poor situation because of something her father has done, so Rose being a good person takes her in and raises her right. Though Rose seemed more romantic the whole book, it shows her motherly instinct instead of her opinion on the whole matter.
What real human issues does this play address? In what ways is Wilson striving for social realism? The play addresses real issues like racism and prejudice, over coming adversity, change, as well as acceptance. Although the Maxsons are living in a time of change and different opportunities, the struggle of getting by and becoming successful are all still very present. Wilson strives for social realism through the themes he expresses throughout the play. These themes represent the aspects of life that African Americans had to face every day during this time.
How does Wilson deal with identity, societal expectations, race and gender in Fences? Wilson deals with these elements in his play to reflect how difficult these times were for minorities. Through gender, we can see that Troy is the dominant figure in the household and he has the final say over everything. As for identity, it is hard for each character to find their identity because it is so hard for them to make a name for themselves whether it is at the work place, or Cory trying to convince his dad to let him go do bigger and better things at college. Society doesn’t have big hopes for the Maxson family just because they’re in fact a minority and weren’t expected to do much at this time.