Meaghan McCabeKathleen ForniEN 101.11April 23, 2013 The play Fences, by August Wilson, tells a story of an African American family in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. This play is relevant today because it is a great depiction of the true hardships that American racism imposed on families of color. The Maxson family is one of those whom hold great burden and difficulty.
Troy Maxson is the father figure and main character of this play. Throughout this story, Troy’s character is evoked with counteracting points of good and bad. He provides for his family, however, is often emotionally distant from them.
Having a character like this allows for the reader to analyze why he is this complicated of a person. The title can also relate to Troy’s character because he creates a fence to keep his family constricted of the outside societal changes, and the fence ultimately creates divisions that separate himself from his family members. Growing up, Troy and his father had a brutal relationship. His father beat him constantly and did some unspeakable things that caused Troy to leave his family at the age of 14.
He landed up in jail and then married Rose and started a family in hopes of a new life, leaving his past behind. This unfinished battle between Troy and his father creates anger in his every day life even after his father is dead. Because of that, the hatred for his father becomes the root of Troy’s future hostility with anyone who cares about him. Troy speaks of his father in conversation with his best friend Bono, he says “Sometimes I wish I hadn’t known my daddy. He ain’t cared nothing about no kids… Wonder why the devil hadn’t come down and got him” (Wilson 1540).
From this excerpt of a much longer rant, Troy’s rage is uncontrollable. His past is inescapable and that causes his personality and actions later on to showcase those of his fathers.This father son relationship battle is present again with Troy and his son Cory throughout the story.
The biggest issue between the two of them is that Troy will not let his son play college football. He tells Cory that since he is black he will never get to play and that working is more important. The underlying fear in Troy’s resistance is not that Cory will be able to succeed beyond the expectations of a common black child, but is that he can exceed his father.
Troy is obviously jealous that his son will become the person Troy should have been being that Troy failed at playing college baseball. Cory does not agree or understand, which later results in his hatred for his own father. In the beginning of the play Cory confronts his father and asks why he doesn’t like Cory. Troy says “Like you?…
You are the biggest fool I ever saw. It’s my job. It’s my responsibility!… Not cause I like you… I ain’t got to like you” (1535). In this scene, Troy is stubborn, rude and mean to his son; however, he is speaking the truth.
Troy takes on all of the responsibilities to support his family and if that means he has to be a cold man, then that is what he is going to do. Troy can be analyzed in opposite directions and his relationship with Cory justifies his complexity. The next character that Troy creates a division with is his wife Rose.
Rose and Troy portray a normal married couple in that time period, where the husband worked and the wife stayed at home and took care of the house and kids. Throughout the play Rose seems to be one of the only ones who can actually tolerate Troy’s behavior and personality. Another pro to Troy’s character lies within Rose.
If Troy were such a horrible person, why would Rose marry him? It could be that she saw goodness in Troy even with the hard outside or it could have been he progressively got worse and she is too good of a person to ever leave him. Rose and Troy do not agree on the topic of Cory playing football and Troy snaps at his wife whenever she mentions it. They also disagree on Rose finding out that her husband cheated and got another women pregnant. For her, this might be the point in time where she realizes that that goodness is non-existent in Troy.
In Scene 2 of Act 2, Troy tells Rose about his affair and he justifies his actions by saying, “She gives me a different idea… a different understanding about myself. I can step out of this house and get away from the pressures and the problems… be a different man” (1549). What he says reinforces the amount of responsibility he takes on to make his family comfortable, but having an affair is not an excuse. Rose then fires right back and says,