Racial Relations And African American Culture Essay

Racial Relations And African American Culture Essay

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August Wilson’s famous 1983 stage play Fences explores African-American lifestyle in the 1950s. It tells the story of racial relations and African-American culture during that era. The main character in Fences is Troy, a mid-age African American man struggling to take care of his household. In August Wilson’s plays, the characters are developed to reflect the struggle of African American people, especially black males. These men are struggling for a power that is out of reach to them because the power is held by others. Two characters that stand out are Troy from Fences and Levee from Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Though these men live their lives in different decades, their situations are very similar. Both are oppressed by white culture and simultaneously oppressed by their heritage of bondage. Both also have freedom but feel little of it. Both Troy and Levee struggle against their oppressive pasts and their present surroundings, and when they try to regain the power in their lives, they fail, and end up bringing others down with them (Shannon).
An injustice Troy lived through was the loss of a great opportunity because of his skin color. Troy was a great baseball player in his younger years and even played for the Negro Leagues but because colored barriers weren’t broken by the time he grew too old; Troy was not accepted into the Major Leagues. Being very bitter about this injustice, it continued to affect him in adulthood. Troy’s son, Cory, was an exceptional baseball player with a promising future like his father but because of Troy’s rejection from the Major Leagues, he often dismisses and shoots down his son’s dreams to play baseball. He thinks that Cory’s job at the local grocery store is a good opportunity for him. When...


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...he two central male characters, Troy and Levee, are both in a struggle to overcome the oppression in their lives while trying to rise above their difficult situations. Their strong, dominant personality combined with their depressing attitude makes them tragic-heroes mixed with qualities of a villain (Wolfe). They are constantly pushed down by others, including members of their own race along as well as the opposite race. They struggle to gain power that they never had. Failing to find this power ends up with them pulling down others who are around them. Levee and Troy are both representations of the hopes and dreams of a black male living in a free America. They portray the cruel reality that even though by law they are free men, they are still very much oppressed. They are not free men who can have the power and control over their own life’s destiny (Shannon).

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