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Fences


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A: August Wilson Pf: 1985, New Haven, Connecticut Pb: 1986 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Yard of the Maxsons' home, US city, 1957, 1965 C: 5m, 1f, 1 child (f)Troy Maxson, a 53-year-old black garbage collector, arrives home from work with his friend Bono. Troy has been complaining that only white men are allowed to drive the trucks, while the blacks have to deal with the rubbish. Troy has a son Lyons (34) by his first marriage, a charming wastrel, and is now married to Rose (43), with whom he has one son Cory, who works in a local store and is a keen footballer. Troy's brother Gabriel suffered a head injury in the Second World War and now believes that he is the Archangel Gabriel. Cory has been selected for a football team and will be able to go to college, but Troy objects, saying that blacks can never prosper in sport. Troy recalls how at 14 he left his family to travel up north, only to find himself without a job or a home. He was shot trying to rob a man and was jailed for 15 years. Now he has been made a driver – even though he does not have a licence. Troy refuses to let Cory sign with the team and confesses to Rose that he has made his mistress Alberta pregnant. In the ensuing quarrel, Troy is about to hit Rose, when Cory intervenes. Six months later, news comes that Alberta has died in childbirth, and Troy resolves to build a fence round his yard to keep death out. Rose adopts Alberta's baby but freezes Troy out. Troy fights with Cory and sends him away. Seven years later, Lyons, paroled from prison; Cory, now a corporal in the Marines; and Gabriel vainly trying to blow his trumpet, arrive to attend Troy's funeral.

A: August Wilson Pf: 1985, New Haven, Connecticut Pb: 1986 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Yard of the Maxsons' home, US city, 1957, 1965 C: 5m, 1f, 1 child (f)

Troy is a semi-tragic figure with echoes of King Lear. Living beyond his time and maintaining outmoded patriarchal values, he is sensitive neither to the real needs of his family nor to the wider changes taking place in society. As Rose reminds him: ‘The world's changing around you and you can't even see it.’ Thus in this second play by poet turned playwright, Wilson creates not only a family drama but documents the growing power of African-Americans.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights) — Theatre.


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