Religion in August Wilson's Fences

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In August Wilson's play, Fences, the character, Troy Maxson, is by no definition a religious man. He has created his own religion through his own philosophies, especially baseball. Sandra G. Shannon's critical analysis, "The Good Christian's Come and Gone: The Shifting Role of Christianity in August Wilson Plays," gives analogies for the way Troy deals with his own spirituality.

It is agreeable that Troy, like other Wilson characters, deals with religion in his own way. Shannon asserts, "this cynical black man does not lay his burdens down at the church's altar. As is the case with each of Wilson's men, Christianity plays no role in Troy's search for comfort and direction" (382). Troy never does find comfort and direction, even in his sacred baseball. It could be that Troy finds his greatest solace in the blues. Shannon states that, through the blues, Troy feels as if he can communicate and heal his emotional wounds.

Shannon explains Wilson justified the need for the blues in an interview with Bill Moyer. Wilson states, "The blues are important primarily because they contain the cultural response of blacks in America to the situation that they find themselves in. Contained in the blues is a philosophical system at work" (382). It is true that for Troy the two systems of the blues and Christianity can in no way co-exist with each other.

It is also true that Troy does not openly disregard the church, but he does make it obvious in his own way that he is clearly an atheist. "While Christianity does not interest Troy, he adopts the game of baseball as a more relevant metaphor for his life" (Shannon 382). Shannon is totally right in the fact that Troy uses baseball as a religion. Shannon correctly states t...

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...ation when such human substitutes are available" (Shannon 384). Shannon is correct in her thoughts about Troy and fulfilling his needs through other people.

In conclusion, I believe Shannon makes her points strongly about Troy's aversion to Christianity. She sums up her assertions by stating, "When African American men like Troy did fall into the pits of depression, they did not reach for the Bible. They created their own convenient laws of behavior," (384). This is indicative of Troy in every way he deals with work, family, and death. I agree with Shannon in that Christianity knocks at Troy's door just like death, and he rearranges it to fit into his philosophies.

Works Cited

Shannon, Sandra G. "The Good Christian's Come and Gone: The Shifting Role of Christianity in August Wilson Plays." Contemporary Literary Criticism 118 (1999): 382-384.

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