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Essay about Fences by August Wilson

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Fences is a play that deals with boundaries that hold people back and the trials and tribulations of those who try or wish to cross them. The characters are African-Americans in a time before the civil rights movement, living in an industrial city. The main character, Troy Manxson, is a talented baseball player who never had the chance to let his talent shine, with restrictions on race and his time in jail as the main obstacles that held him back. He is now hard working and loves his family. However, he tends to exaggerate and has his faults, most prevalent a wandering eye when it comes to women. His wife, Rose, is younger than him and loyal, but she may not have known about all of his faults when she married him. At the beginning of the play, Troy has a son from a previous marriage, Lyons, and a son with Rose, Cory. Also appearing are Bono, Troy’s drinking buddy, and Gabriel, his brother.

All of the characters are "fenced in," by various barriers. Troy is working in a job where African Americans can get the lowest and most difficult tasks. On the home front, he has responsibilities to his family. Rose has chosen life with Troy as an alternative to "a succession of abusive men and their babies, a life of partying, or the Church." Troy’s son, Lyons, is supposedly a musician but is going nowhere. Cory has potential but has his dream of playing college football extinguished by both protective and jealous Troy. The characters must deal with hardships of daily life, racial discrimination, straining relationships with each other, and the feeling that this is all their lives are: somewhat of a confined space with no escape; fenced in.

Troy’s brother Gabriel, although minor, is important to the play for many reasons. The most importan...


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... frustrated with his life, but he has more than he realizes. Gabriel is able to appreciate the littlest things because they are all that he has. He is sort of the yang to the other characters’ yin; he seems to be the opposite, at least in terms of emotions. Everything in his life is magnified, something of enormous importance to him is miniscule to another. Therein lies the purpose of Gabriel in relation to the play. While the characters may be miserable and have their own battles to fight, while it seems as if there’s no purpose to life and their fences are impossible, they must appreciate the wealth of what lies inside those fences. While they may not be rich or have upper-class standing, they are important and do have each other. They are just as special as anyone else. They struggle, but that just makes their lives more meaningful. Gabriel helps demonstrate this



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