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Fences: When a Fence is not Merely a Fence

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August Wilson’s Fences is a powerful play that centers on Troy Maxson and the Maxson family. While Wilson’s plays are entertaining, his goal is to provide the black community a source of entertainment in which they can be proud of their history. Wilson’s Fences does that through showing the complexities of Troy Maxson. Troy is the protagonist of the play. He is at constant battle with himself over racial issues that have plagued him throughout his life. In spite of being promoted as the first black truck driver at his job, he is unable to forget how race kept him from achieving baseball fame. However, Troy is able to build a suitable life for his family. Troy is a strong character, but his personal faults end up destroying what he should value most, his family. Throughout the play, there is focus on building a fence around the Maxson home; this fence becomes a metaphor for Troy and other members of his family. While the play is set around building a literal fence, the true focus is on the metaphorical fence for each character (O’Reilly).
For Troy, the fence represents many issues. In a sense, Troy has more than one fence with which to deal. Racial discrimination and an abusive father shaped much of Troy’s life. Troy leaves home when he is fourteen years old due to conflict with his father; being on his own was difficult. Troy ends up turning to a life of crime, which lands him in prison for manslaughter (Wolfe). The reason he went to prison was that he crossed the “fence” into a life of crime, a life the deemed necessary at the time because of race. In prison, Troy discovered his love for baseball; he even becomes a star in the Negro League. However, his fame came at a time when color prevented him from reaching the Majors. To ...

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