Drama is about bringing reality to life through acting and interpretation. August Wilson
wrote the play Fences about his life: the heartbreaking reality of racism in his own life and the
struggles he faced to overcome it. He had a hard childhood and career due to prejudice and
fatherly abandonment, and he reflected that through his works of African American drama.
Wilson uses the character of Troy, his family, and his friends in Fences to pour out his life, his
hardship, and the horrifying difficulty African Americans faced throughout the generations.
August Wilson was born in a ghetto area of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to his white father,
August Kittel and African American mother, Daisy Wilson Kittel. His father left him, his
mother, and Wilson‘s five siblings when Wilson was a young child. His mother worked as a
cleaning woman until she remarried. His stepfather moved them to a primarily white
neighborhood where the family was subjected to fierce racial prejudice. Wilson has also married
several times, having two children, one each from separate marriages (Galens 181).
One of Wilson‘s most prominent dramas is Fences, in which he strongly deals with the
issues of civil rights he struggled with in his life. The ―fences‖ in the play are a representation of
blockages in the relationships of the characters‘ family ties and their racial issues. The actual
fence in the play was built with the intention to keep the family together while the title word
―fences‖ has a different meaning, that is, to impede movement or departure of individuals,
families, or ethnicities. Robert Frost wrote of fences in his poem ―Mending Wall‖ showing how
fences are designed to keep people in or out and how that separation m...
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career was heavily affected by racism; however, it is that racism and hardship which helped him
to form a foundation for some of the most significant modern drama ever.
Delbanco, Nicholas and Alan Cheuse, eds. Literature: Craft and Voice. Vol. 1-3. New York:
McGraw Hill, 2010. Print.
―Fences.‖ Drama for Students. Ed. David M. Galens. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 180-197. Gale
Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Nov. 2010.
Frost, Robert. ―The Mending Wall.‖ Literature: Craft & Voice. Vol. 1: 413-14.
Kenney, W. P. "Fences." Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition (2009):
Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.
Wessling, Joseph H. "Wilson's Fences." Explicator 57.2 (1999): 123. Literary Reference Center.
EBSCO. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.
Wilson, August. Fences. Literature: Craft & Voice. Vol. 3: 422-56.
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