Life Lessons in August Wilson's Fences and James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
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In comparing August Wilson's play "Fences" and James Thurber's short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," it can be seen that the main characters in each of these stories face a similar universal human conflict. Both Troy, of "Fences," and Walter Mitty live lives in which they, like most everyone, are limited to some extent by forces beyond their control as to how they live their life. These limitations, unfortunately, cannot be avoided throughout life and can be very stressful at times. When a person experiences stress, they're future reactions to stress tend to be magnified even more (Carpi). Therefore, it is best to find a way to cope with stress to prevent from falling apart. Some people, like Troy, are unable to deal with these limitations and eventually do indeed, fall apart. Others however, like Walter, create ways of overcoming these restraints that life throws at us and learn to become better people in the process.
In Troy's situation, the responsibility of providing for his family places great limitations on his life. Troy must give most of his money up to his family to provide for his wife Rose and son Cory. In one example, Troy hands Rose money he has just received from work while saying to his friend Bono, "There it is. Seventy-six dollars and forty-two cents. You see this, Bono? Now, I ain't gonna get but six of that back," and again later, Rose requests money from Troy saying, "You can hand yours over here too, Troy," in which Troy remarks, "You see this Bono. You see how they do me." Troy would obviously like much better to keep all of his hard earned money for himself so that he can do things that he wants to do.
In one argument with his son Cory, Troy says, "A man got to take care of his family. You live in my house sleep you behind on my bedclothes fill you belly up with my food cause you my son. You my flesh and blood. Not cause I like you! Cause it's my duty to take care of you," clearly indicating that if it was not for the fact he were his son, he could care less about him and wouldn't be giving him anything.
As for Walter Mitty, he tends to be limited by the overpowering and demanding personalities of the people around him, the biggest of which is his wife.