Fences, by August Wilson

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Should a neglected, discriminated, and misplaced black man living in the mid 1900s possessing a spectacular, yet unfulfilled talent for baseball be satisfied or miserable? The play Fences, written by August Wilson, answers this question by depicting the challenging journey of the main character, Troy Maxon. Troy, an exceptional baseball player during his youth, cannot break the color barrier and is kept from playing in the big leagues. That being his major life setback, Troy has a pessimistic view on the world. His attitude is unpleasant, but not without justification. Troy has a right to be angry, but to whom he takes out his anger on is questionable. He regularly gets fed up with his sons, Lyons and Cory, for no good reason. Troy disapproves of Lyons’ musical goals and Cory’s football ambitions to the point where the reader can notice Troy’s illogical way of releasing his displeasures. Frank Rich’s 1985 review of Fences in the New York Times argues that Troy’s constant anger is not irrational, but expected. Although Troy’s antagonism in misdirected, Rich is correct when he observes that Troy’s endless anger is warranted because Troy experiences an extremely difficult life, facing racism, jail, and poverty.
Troy Maxon experiences a tumultuous life, beginning with his departure from his parents’ home at the age of fourteen. Living on an impoverished farm in the Deep South, Troy describes his father, who beats him regularly and only cares about work, as the devil. In Troy’s dialogue with Bono and Lyons, Troy remarks, “My daddy turned to face me, I could see why the devil had never come to get him…cause he was the devil himself” (Wilson 52). The most influential person in Troy’s early life was, as Troy believes, the devil. His...

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...eless, he essentially lived his life in a constant low point. Troy’s anger is undoubtedly misguided, but entirely permissible considering his hardships. The story of Troy Maxon begs the question: is it ever justifiable to pass judgment on someone without understanding his or her life story? After analyzing Troy’s struggle and resulting attitude, it seems that passing judgment is exceptionally risky. Without recognizing the early hardships of Troy’s life, it is easy to dismiss him and his cynical outlook. What can be learned from his story is evident. Never judge someone for his or her seemingly unwarranted attitude because there is a good chance it is completely defensible.

Works Cited:
Rich, Frank. "Theater: Wilson's Fences." New York Times 7 May 1985: n. pag. Print.
Wilson, August. Fences: A Play in Two Acts. New York, NY: New American Library, 1986.
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