Fences: Family and Troy S Son Analysis

Table of Content

August Wilson was an influential 20th-century playwright and the most prominent African American of that craft. Born on April 27, 1945, August Wilson grew up in the Hill district of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His childhood experiences in this black slum community would later become part of his dramatic writings. Though he lived much of his adult life in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in Seattle, the characters and plots of his plays were inspired by realities he experienced growing up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and Oakland neighborhood.

August Wilson’s, Fences set in the late 1950’s tells the story of Troy Maxson, an uneducated trash collector who has become resentful by a racist system that has deprived of him the baseball career he feels he deserves. This resentment has also caused turmoil in his relationship with his sons Cory and Lyons. Cory’s disobedience and Lyons insensible, irresponsible attitude were caused by their father’s indifferent attitude towards them. August Wilson writes about the black experience in Fences and the struggle that many African American men like Troy Maxson.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Wilson paints the following picture to describe how different reality was for African Americans compared to their white counterparts: They came from places called the Carolinas…Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. They came strong, eager, searching. The city rejected them …. They sold the use of their muscles and their bodies. They cleaned houses and washed clothes, they shined shoes, and in quiet desperation and vengeful pride, they stole and lived in pursuit of their own dream.

Troy Maxson plays the part of the central character who has been disappointed throughout his life by everyone he has been close to. He was forced to leave home at an early age because his father beat him so dramatically and had to plunge himself into adulthood “And right there the world suddenly got big…”. He feels the purpose for his life is to work hard and provide for his family. As long as he does that he does not see a need for anything else. We learn this from his argument with Cory: “I go out of here every morning … bust my butt …putting up with them crackers every day. Troy’s father not only passes on his own race-related frustrations to Troy, but also his inability to face life’s challenges with dignity Troy’s character creates drama with everyone else in Fences. Troy’s indifferent attitude causes discord as a result of his inability to accept other’s choices in life when they differ from Troy’s own viewpoint. Troy’s father was more of an “evil” man than Troy, but he was a worker and a provider. Troy, even as a runaway, carried with him his father’s qualities along with a considerable decrease of the father’s harshness and promiscuity.

To Troy’s credit he can appreciate his father’s legacy and excuse his evil side: “But I’ll say this for him… he felt a responsibility toward us… he could have walked off and left us… made his own way”. Troy never learned how to treat people that were close to him with love and respect. Troy Maxson is complicated, unstable and finally, a difficult character in the play (Brewer). This makes Troy the contender in the story because he is not only against everyone in the play, but he is also against himself and ultimately making his life and theirs more complicated.

The discrimination that Troy faced while playing baseball and the torment he endures as a child shaped him into the person that he has become. Fences establishes the difficulties of acceptance…in both directions of a man’s history: from the father, then from the son”. Wilson’s Fences portrays various relationships and impact one man had on numerous people around him. These methods as well as the common story of the struggle between a father and son allow the reader to connect and relate to the characters and the plot. The father-son opposition is a normal generational fight that happens all the time. Troy’s hostile attitude stems from his past. His inability to play baseball and the hostility he felt for his own father “he was just as evil as he could be”. Troy’s relationship with his father was hostile and intense. Just the same his relationship with his sons was equally hostile and uncaring. The play is “centered upon… conflict between Troy Maxson and his teenage son, Cory”. The relationship he has with his youngest son Cory Maxson is bitter and tense. He blames racism for keeping him from attaining his dream of playing major league baseball, and he can’t seem to let go of this resentment. The white man ain’t gonna let him get nowhere …” Troy says to his wife Rose. There are two different generations portrayed in Troy and Cory. Troy comes from the generation where men didn’t graduate high school. They didn’t follow a silly dream of becoming a professional athlete. Troy’s generation worked hard, had children and provided a stable home for their families. Troy does not want Cory to experience the hardship and disappointment Troy felt trying to become a professional sports player, so he demands that Cory work after school instead of practicing with the football team.

Cory, however, sees that times changed since baseball rejected a player as talented as Troy because of the color of his skin. While arguing with his father about playing football for school Cory yells, “Just cause you didn’t have a chance! You just scared I’m gonna be better than you, that’s all. Cory breaks the news to Troy that he has given away his job at the local grocery store, the A&P, during the football season. Cory begs Troy to let him play because a coach from North Carolina is coming all the way to see Cory play. Troy refuses and demands Cory to get his job back.

Because Troy was “too early” to make it as a professional baseball player he prevents his son Cory from playing football (1335). While Cory may want to have a relationship with his father “Cory has no personal experience that corresponds to his father” (Metzger). Cory cannot forgive his father for it. Troy is both jealous and protective of Cory. He’s afraid Cory will achieve what was denied to him, but he also wants to spare Cory from the racism that he faced. As much as Cory may be upset with his father and his values, Wilson states, “Cory is Troy’s son. How can he be Troy’s son without sharing Troy’s values” (qtd. n Savran). Cory finally leaves home when he and his father end up in a physical fight, “You got the devil in you” Troy shouts at Cory before he leaves the house. Cory knows he can never please his father, and his feelings for Troy have turned to hatred. Troy has another son, Lyons, by a former marriage, but he treats Lyons the same as he does Cory. He is unconcerned and uncaring to Lyons as well. Lyons turns out to be much like Troy, ending up doing “time” just like his father. Lyons was raised with only one parent, his mother, while Troy was in jail.

Lyon does not display much respect for his father. He does, however, have a need for his father’s money, frequently arriving at the house on Troy’s paydays. Most of Lyons resentment for his father comes from his father not being a part of his upbringing, “You can’t change me, Pop. If you wanted to chance me, you should have been there when I was growing up” (qtd. in Brewer). The pain Troy feels from his past doesn’t allow him to let his family get close and he feels the simple act of standing in the same place for “eighteen years” fulfilled his marital and atherly responsibilities” (1360). Troy felt in some way that he was protecting his sons from the disappointment that he faced. The fence protects Troy from being hurt any further, but it also robs him of a fulfilling relationship with his sons. Lyons and Cory had very different upbringings, though their development into men does not fall too far from the tree of their father’s experience. Lyons feels his life choices are solely his decision and should be able to pursue his music because he had more family support and less hardship than Troy.

Troy was not around to shape him into a dependable person, so Lyons tends to need to borrow money from his father regularly. “Wilson demonstrates vividly not the perceptual distortions of one individual, but the terrifying obstacles which face all black men of Troy’s generation” (Blumenthal). In the end, after a bitter scuffle with his father, Cory leaves home and joins the Marines; Lyon is serving time in prison. Troy passes away over the course of Cory’s absence leaving much unfinished business between the two men. Cory returns home seven years later to attend Troy’s funeral, but Cory is still not sure how he feels about his father.

However, in the end Cory realizes that his fathers “shadow” doesn’t have to be looked at as a negative reflection of himself (1370). The fence Troy built around himself will affect Cory forever, but we can hope Cory is a better father to his child. A fence can protect and keep your loved ones; however it can also push them away. Ultimately, both Troy and Cory allow their frustrations about life to derail their family relationships and, in the process; they lose all chances of having a stable father son relationship.

Works Cited

Blumenthal, Anna D. “More stories Than the Devil Got Sinner’: Troys Stories in August Wilsons Fences. Www. sunyorange. edu/lrc. SUNY Orange, 2006. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. Brewer, Gayle. “Holy and Unholy Ghost: The Legacy of the Father in the Plays of August Wilson. ” Literature Resource Center. Gale Group, 2008. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. . Metzger, Sheri. “An Essay on Fences. ” Literature Resource Center. Gale Group. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. . Roberts, Edgar V. , and Robert E. Zweig. “Fences. ” Literature An Introduction to Reading and Writing Compact (4th Edition). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2007. 1328-371. Print. Savran, David. In Their Own Words. New York: Theatre Communication Group, 1988. Print.

Cite this page

Fences: Family and Troy S Son Analysis. (2018, Feb 18). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront