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Throughout the play the reader sees how 'fences' are used to protect the characters mentioned. Early on, Rose protects herself by singing, 'Jesus, be a fence all around me every day. Jesus, I want you to protect me as I travel on my way' (Wilson 21). By Rose signing this song, one can see Rose's desire for protection. To Rose, a fence is a symbol of her love. Her longing for a fence signifies that Rose represents love and nurturing within a safe environment. However Troy and Cory think the fence is a burden and reluctantly work on finishing Rose's project. Bono indicates to Troy that Rose wants the fence built to protect her loved ones as he says, 'Some people build fences to keep people out' and other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you all. She loves you? (61). While reminiscing about the 'project', Bono asks Troy why he 'got to go and get some hard wood' (60) as he says, "Nigger, why you got to go and get some hard wood? You ain't doing nothing but building a little old fence. Get you some soft pine wood. That's all you need" (60). Troy choosing to use hard wood instead of soft pine wood shows the reader that Troy wants hard wood to protect him harder from Death and all of his problems. Although each character in the play interprets the concept of a fence differently, they all see it as some form of protection.
Another occasion where fences are symbolized in the play is by Rose and Troy?s relationship. One of the most major ways Troy and Rose?s relationship is symbolized is by the cakes Rose makes for the church.
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August Wilson develops the symbol of a fence as a literary tool to help paint images in the reader's mind in his Pulitzer Prize winning play, Fences. Characters are protected mentally and physically by the depiction of fences. Troy has a mental image of Death and his relationship with Mr. Death and continues to grow. Troy's relationship with Rose also develops, however with his betrayal it formulates into an unforgiveable sin. As one reads this play, the reader can see the characters come to life. The various symbols of a fence portrayed by Wilson combine with his cultural descriptions to create a colorful and memorable experience for the reader.
Wilson, August. Fences. New York: Plume/New American Library, 1986.