Fences: An Analysis

On September 12th, 2011, Posted by author

Last modified: October 26, 2015

The play Fences by August Wilson presents us a view of the fences in the life and times of Troy and his African American family in the 1950s. I like this play for the different meanings brought out by the author for the word ‘fences’, at different levels and different areas too.

All living and non-living things have their own types of barricades and boundaries to protect their territory or place of existence. Human beings like other animals defend their territories from aggression of others. There are also ‘fences’ we build around ourselves like those of family, society, religion, and even individual ones. Sometimes, fences or walls are used to keep things or people inside instead of out, such as in prisons. Here, the people protest at being confined and try to get out at the first opportunity.  Other than the boundaries built by hand there are barriers and barricades in our minds too. These mental fences to serve either to keep things out or confine them inside. All these meanings of the word “fences” are brought out in the play.

The actual physical fence in the play is put up by Troy Maxson and his son Cory at the urging of his wife Rose, knowing full well that they had nothing worth stealing in their home. As Bono (Troy’s friend) sees it, Rose was trying to confine her loved ones from going away and wants to hold on to them. Later we see that her premonition turns to be true when Troy drifts to another woman and later dies and Cory gets thrown out by Troy. Love is the fence that Rose tries to use, but it was not strong enough. Rose also uses religion and prays to Jesus to be her fence to protect herself and her family from evil.

Other meanings of fences include: the black-white boundary existing in the 1950s, not only in the kind of jobs accessible to each group but even in such things as getting selected into baseball team. While other baseball players were trying to hit the ball over the fence, Troy tried to get inside the fence to play in the team. Cory too resents this color-barrier and wants to break out of it like his friends and get into jobs that were not available to their parents. When Troy is negligent in building Rose’s fence, he is also negligent of his family. He fails in his duties of a husband and father.

The compartments of man-woman relationships and roles are also explored in the story: Troy, as a man can be unfaithful, but Rose is not even allowed to participate in the men’s conversation. Troy’s brother Gabriel is mentally deficient and bound by his disability, but this very deficiency makes his conceptions boundless and his actions unhindered by societal expectations.

The bringing together of the different levels of meaning of the same word and skillfully knitting into a coherent and meaningful story is what I like about the play and its author. When you like a book, play or movie and want to tell others what you like about it, a persuasive essay is the best medium. Most courses in English require one or more such essays. Writing an essay is now very easy when you get the help of our essay writing service to prepare your own custom essays.

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