The Symbolic Importance of the Fence in August Wilson’s Fences Essay

The Symbolic Importance of the Fence in August Wilson’s Fences Essay

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Alan Nadel argues that the object of the fence in August Wilson’s play, “Fences” symbolizes a great struggle between the literal and figurative definitions of humanity and blackness. The author summarizes the play and uses the character Troy to explain the characterization of black abilities, such as Troy’s baseball talents, as “metaphoric,” which does not enable Troy to play in the white leagues as the period is set during segregation (Nadel 92). The author is trying to use the characters from the play as examples of black people during the segregation years to show how people of that time considered black people not as literal entities and more like figurative caricatures. Stating that these individuals were considered to be in a kind of limbo between human and object. Nadel’s thesis is easy to spot, and is actually pointed out directly on page 88 of the text. It reads that August Wilson’s play actually investigates the position of black persons as the metaphorical “fence” between humanity and property, arguing that the effects of this situation interacts within the “context of white [America]” so that a wider range of people are able to view the internal struggles of the black community.
The entirety of the Nadel’s article sheds light on a topic that is not easy for many authors to use without creating caricatures or exaggerated images of a stereotype. At first reading, the content is a little confusing, and somewhat daunting. However, after another reading, the text is easier to grasp. Nadel’s article would have been much stronger if he took time to mention other characters than Troy. Adding more about the character of Rose in this article created a fuller and better grasp on the topic of the fence, which Nadel...


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...in character of “Fences,” fights to be a father with nothing to go on but the harsh example set by his own father, which resembles a symbolic fence separating the relationship between father and son. There is also Troy's son, Cory, a boy becoming a man, coming of age under Troy's sovereignty. The play shows that no matter how old you are, you're constantly measuring yourself against the example set by your parents. Even if the reader’s family is nothing like the Maxsons, one may possibly connect with this basic human struggle.




Works Cited
Nadel, Alan, “May All Your Fences Have Gates': Essays On The Drama Of August Wilson." African American Review 31.1 (1997): 151-153. British Library Document Supply Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.

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