Essay on Fences: Day-to-Day Obstacles of the Average African American

Essay on Fences: Day-to-Day Obstacles of the Average African American

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In Fences, August Wilson strives to accurately depict the social and economic situations of the time period the play is set in. He uses the plots, characters, and the characters’ relationships with each other to show the day-to-day obstacles the average African American faces in the mid 1900s; and to show the various types of relationships between people during the time, from the black/white racial relationship to the relationship between man and woman. In particular, he uses Rose and Troy as examples of the typical relationship between a man and woman of the period – more specifically, he uses them to show the relationship and power structure between men and women. This relationship and power structure – the woman playing a subservient role to the strong, alpha male type – is definitely illustrated in Fences. Rose and Troy’s relationship depicts the conventional gender roles of the late 1950s-60s by displaying an unequal relationship between man and woman – one that was usual of the time period – with Rose often forced to concede her desires and wishes for Troy in her role as a dutiful housewife. Troy, a dominating man both in an out of his home life, plays a masculine, controlling, and often – though unintentional – selfish role in their relationship.
In Rose and Troy’s relationship, Rose is forced to be a deferential wife to Troy and, unknown to Troy, sacrifices a lot to keep him happy and be what she thinks of as an ideal wife. Rose’s ideas of what a wife should be seem to coincide with the 1950s idea on the obligations of a woman, the woman taking on a secondary position in contrast to the husband and preferable reticent and unassertive. The sacrificial approach Rose takes to the relationship and this idea of what ...


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... money – is often shown to be a man) where Rose is left to lead to her motherly, nurturing role (though an oversimplification, as Rose has her own power – the mother is not weak – Rose does end up taking care of his child with another woman). These duties each have, the obligations Rose feels to Troy, the responsibility Troy feels to his family, show the usual ideas of the man and woman in society. In addition, the dominant, demanding way Troy treats his family and the selfishness he shows all contribute to the image of a slightly arrogant and entitled man with traditionally masculine characteristics. Rose, in contrast, takes up the position of a doting wife, and her bitterness because of this is unveiled after Troy tells her of his affair. Like with many of his other characters, Wilson uses Rose and Troy to depict the social opinions, beliefs, and situations of

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