Fences Playwright by August Wilson

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Fences Playwright by August Wilson

August Wilson’s “Fences” is a story of a Black family in the 1950s. August Wilson presents a tale where the released black slaves try to survive in the midst of the urban American industrial state. Fences contain a story comprising of four generations of African Americans together with how the slaves passed on a legacy of patterns, morals, attitudes, and mores of life.

August Wilson presents Troy as a father struggling to support his sons, wife, and brother. Troy is presented as a father who is uncaring towards Rose his wife, Gabriel his brother, and to his son Cory. Troy is selfish and does not value the needs and presence of his sons and this establishes a huge conflict between him and the family. Father and son relationship is worsened by Troy’s habit of not enjoying the presence of his own sons. However, this is not Troy’s fault. The antagonism between Troy and his son Cory stems from the relationship he had with his own father when he was a small boy. His father mistreated him and never raised him well, and this is why Troy tried to get away from his Dad by escaping. In the book, Wilson presents Troy as a man who is fenced in all his life patterns, which forces him to remain at a distance from his family. Troy himself feels largely fenced in all his life.


In the story, Fences, August Wilson presents Troy as a character with a complicated relationship to all other characters used in the play. The most interesting part of Troy is his sour relationship with Cory, his son. Although Cory and Troy have numerous similarities, there are various personal differences that complicate their father-son relationship. Also, there exist other external elements that worsen their relationship. Their relationship is complicated by differences in the time period that they grew up. Troy plays an imaginary battle with family to death. He is not ready to support and bring up his son Cory well, and this started in childhood. Failure to understand the time difference between when Troy grew up makes him ignorant, and thus poor parenting and upbringing of his son Cory.

Further, August Wilson’s Fences explains the evolving Black Americans experience on racial discrimination as they try to make ends meet. August Wilson’s story rotates around a 53-year-old man, Troy whose race is African American. Racial discrimination is manifested in the play form the manner in which Troy is treated despite his long-lasting dream to play baseball. Although Troy plays baseball, his skin color is seen to be a barrier that makes him unable to join professional baseball team in America. As a result, Troy finds it difficult to support his family given the little money he receives for family support. In this essence, Troy is not only struggling to support his family but also to fit into the American society in which racial discrimination has taken roots. In the play, African Americans are seen as people who deserved nothing of importance in the American society and are associated with social crimes.

In the play, sports are used as a symbol of racial discrimination. The African Americans are portrayed as people having an emotional disconnection with the society in which they are brought up. Inability to get a job based on racial prejudice makes it difficult for the Blacks to earn a living, and this is why they get involved in social crimes. In the play Fences, Troy is plotted as a baseball player, a game that he plays with passion but learned to play while withholding in prison. This is symbolism since Troy was jailed when he accidentally murdered a person during a robbery with violence. This instance symbolizes how lack of job opportunities contributes to people’s involvement in social crimes. Racial discrimination is also applied in the workplace where the best jobs are reserved for the whites and not the African-Americans. Troy asks Mr. Rand, “Why are black men not allowed to drive garbage trucks?” Denial of African Americans the right to drive garbage trucks is sarcasm.


In the play, it can be considered that garbage collection was viewed as a dirty work doable by only the less fortunate in the American society given the fact that driving a garbage truck was seen as “literary driving a vehicle”. Black Americans only collected the garbage, and could not drive the truck for this was prohibited in Tamura. Additionally, the play Fences portrays Troy’s wife the mother of Cory having Lyon a son from a previous marriage. However, she does not stay with Lyon due to racial prejudices and conflicts between the whites and the blacks.

In conclusion, employing Gabriel as a soldier contrasts the theme of discrimination in which jobs such as getting employed as a soldier are reserved for the respected people in the society. However, Fences brings out this context differently in the sense that owing to such tasks, experiences, and the faced challenges by soldiers when in the battlefields, the right people for the job were African-Americans. The American dream is realized by mistreating the African Americans.

Work Cited

August, Wilson. Fences (play). 1985.

Wilson, August and Scott Seret. Fences. Connecticut Repertory Theatre, 1994.

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