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Fences by August Wilson

ENC1102 Prof. Gouge
by

Jessica DenDulk

on 20 July 2013

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Transcript of Fences by August Wilson

Fences by August Wilson
Characters
Protagonist: Troy Masxon
a fifty-three year-old, African American man who works for the sanitation department, lifting garbage into trucks. Troy is also a former baseball star in the Negro Leagues. Troy is husband to Rose, father to Lyons, Cory, and Raynell, and brother to Gabriel.
Antagonist: Cory
The teenage son of Troy and Rose. An ambitious young man who has the talent and determination to realize his dreams, Cory comes of age during the course of the play when he challenges and confronts Troy and leaves home.
Characters
Foil: Cory to Troy
Troy and Cory lived very different lives. In comparison to Troy's harsh childhood, Cory's has been pretty easy. He hasn't had to struggle as much as Troy did. Cory has the chance to excel in sports while Troy could only play in the Negro leagues when he was Cory's age.
Confident: Bono
Bono is Troy's best friend. The two have been buddies since they met in prison. Throughout the play, Bono tries to steer Troy away from the seductive Alberta, but Troy ignores him.
Act One
It's Friday, Troy and Bono's payday. Troy and Bono are in the backyard drinking.
They talk about Troy's complaint to the boss about why there is no black drivers.
Then Bono asks Troy about Alberta. Troy claims there is nothing between them and he loves Rose.
Rose comes out of the house and tells the men that Cory, has been recruited by a college football team and the college coach is coming to visit. Troy does not want Cory to play ball, but to learn a trade.
Rose tells Troy he is going to drink himself to death.
Lyons, a son Troy had before he met Rose, shows up at the house as he has tended to do on many Fridays in the past because Lyons knows it is Troy's payday. Lyons is a jazz musician. He asks Troy if he can borrow ten dollars.
After saying no many times, Troy finally gives Lyons the ten dollars. Lyons abruptly decides to leave after receiving the money. Bono decides to go home to Lucille and the pig feet she made for dinner.
Scene One
Act One
Scene Two
The next morning Rose is hanging laundry and singing to herself, "Jesus, be a fence all around me every day" when Troy enters the backyard from the house.
Rose and Troy argue over playing the Lottery.
Troy asks where Cory is, Rose says he went to extra football practice
Troy complains that Cory is just trying to avoid helping him with the fence they're supposed to be building.
Rose tells her husband to stop complaining about everything.
Gabriel, Troy's brother enters. He's got a metal plate in his head from injury he got in WWII. He now thinks he is the archangel Gabriel.
He thinks Troy is mad at him because he moved out of the house to live in Ms. Pearl's basement.
Troy says he's not mad at all.
After a very strange conversation with his brother, Gabriel tells Troy that he sold some tomatoes and now he has two quarters. Soon he'll buy a new horn so that St. Peter can find him on Judgment Day.
Gabriel stops suddenly, thinking he hears some hell hounds. He runs off after them, singing about Judgment Day.
Rose reenters. She says that Gabriel ought to be in a hospital, where they can take care of him properly and Troy says Gabriel shouldn't be locked up.
He complains that his brother got half his head shot off in the war and only got three thousand dollars afterward (Troy used that money to buy his house and seems to feel guilty about it.)
Rose says he shouldn't feel bad; he took care of Gabe in the house as long Gabe wanted to be taken care of.
Troy starts to head out of the yard.
His wife asks him why he's been going off every Saturday, especially since he's supposed to be working on the fence and Troy says he's going to a place called Taylors' and that he'll finish the fence later.
Act One
Scene Three
A few hours later Rose is taking the clothes off the line.
Cory enters carrying his football equipment. Rose fusses at him about leaving that morning without doing his chores.
Cory replies that Troy isn't ever around to work on the fence; he's been down at Taylors' for the past four or five Saturdays.
He asks her if she told his father about the recruiter. Roses replies that she did, but that Troy didn't say much about it.
Cory exits into the house.
Troy enters and asks if Cory is home. She says yes.
Rose goes back into the house while Troy calls for Cory to come out to the yard.
Troy fusses at his son for leaving without doing his chores that morning. He tells him to get to work sawing some boards for the fence.
After a moment, he suggests that Troy buy a TV. They're only two hundred dollars, he says.
Troy goes off on his son, lecturing that if he had two hundred dollars he'd spend it on fixing the roof, not buying a TV.
Troy asks Cory about the college recruiter.
Cory tells him that the recruiter will be coming by to soon to get Troy to sign the permission paper.
Troy says Cory is supposed to be working at the A&P.
Cory replies that Mr. Stawicki is going to hold his job until after football season. Starting next week, Cory will work at the A&P on the weekends.
Troy tells him he's not signing anything. He wants Troy to get his regular job back. He thinks Cory should focus on learning a trade, not sports.
Troy lectures his son, saying that the white man won't let him get ahead in sports anyway.
He demands that Cory quit the football team and take his job back.
Cory asks Troy why he doesn't like him.
Rose points out that Cory is just trying to be like Troy by playing sports.
Troy says he doesn't want Cory to be anything like him.
Act One
Scene Four
Two weeks later, it's a friday
Troy and Bono enter the backyard and Troy is wearing something other than his work uniform.
The two are talking about how Troy was called down to the Commissioner's office because of his complaint.
Bono observes that Troy ran down to Taylors' to tell Alberta about it.
Then Troy proudly announces that they have made him driver.
Lyons enters trying to pay the money back he owes his father, he won't take it so he gives the money to Rose.
Bono comments that Troy doesn't have a driver's license.
Troy says that he'll have one by the time his boss finds out he doesn't have one.
Troy talks about the day he left home.
Troy met Lyons mother after that and then tried to rob a man.
August Wilson
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on April 27, 1945, August Wilson grew up in Pittsburgh's Hill District. Wilson's white father, a German baker named August Kittel. abandoned the family when Wilson was a child. Wilson's mother, Daisy Wilson Kittel. worked as a cleaning woman to raise her six children. After leaving school at 15, Wilson joined the black aesthetic movement of the 1960s and became co-founder of the Black Horizons Theater. Wilson's plays explore African-American life throughout the 20th century.
Setting
Time: 1957, later, 1965
Place: The dirt-yard and porch of the Maxson family's house in Pittsburgh, PA
Act Two
Scene Four
The scene opens with Lyons dropping off $20 that he owed to Troy.
Once Lyons leaves Cory arrives at Troy's house.
Troy is sitting at the steps drinking alcohol.
Cory tries to go inside and tells Troy to get out of his way.
Troy feels disrespected and starts a verbal fight with Cory telling Cory "this is not your house".
Cory responds with anger stating "I am not afraid of you".
Cory grabs a baseball bat and Troy yells out "you are going to have to kill me.
The two start wrestling and Troy eventually gets the upper hand over Cory.
Troy then tells Cory to stay out of his house he will leave his possessions behind the fence.
It is now 1965 the morning of Troy's funeral.
A seven year old Raynell enters the yard wearing a nightgown and staring at a small garden.
Cory enters wearing a marine outfit.
Raynell calls for Rose saying there is "some man in the yard."
Rose meets with Cory, each in tears.
Bono and Lyons enter and head to Cory.
Bono tells Cory he looks just like Troy.
Rose ask everyone if they want breakfast.
Lyons talks to Cory and lets him know that he is serving three years in the workhouses for cashing other peoples checks.
Gabe arrives to the funeral and states "the gates of heaven have now opened".
Gabe then finishes the scene with a strange ritualistic dance.
Act Two
Scene Five

1. Race
• Fences was set in the 1950s. There had been some progress made on race relations, such as the integration of pro sports teams.
• Slavery had been gone from America for over seventy years, but its shadow still lingers in the country.
• All the characters in the play are African American, and they deal with racism every day.
• The South is segregated and much of the North is unofficially.
• Play took place before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
2. Men and Masculinity
• Fences questions what it is to be a man.
• The main conflict centers on the tension between Troy Maxson and his son Cory.
• The play shows how Troy in many ways repeats the mistakes of his own father while raising Cory.
Themes
We’re left with the hope that Cory will be able to break the cycle.
• We are forced to ask what it takes to be a good man. Is it duty to your family? Is it following your heart?
3. Mortality
• Fences views human mortality as both a dark inevitability and our ultimate chance for peace.
• There are only two actual deaths in Fences.
• There were several monologues throughout the play where Troy taunts Death.
• In the end, Death does take Troy, but Troy didn't go down without a fight.

4. Dreams, hope, plans
• Troy Maxson had his dreams taken from him. He wanted more than anything to be a pro baseball player, but his career was stopped because of racial discrimination. The central conflict of Fences centers on Troy's refusal to let his son Cory play football, which destroys Cory's chances of going to college. In this way, Fences explores how the damaged dreams of one generation can damage the dreams of the next. By the end of the play, Cory must find a way to form new dreams out the ashes of the ones he's lost.
5. Family
• Fences is an example of a family drama.
• Troy struggles to fulfill his role as father to his son and husband to his wife
• Fences depicts the complex dynamics that both tear families apart and hold them together.
6. Betrayal
• Troy Maxson manages to betray just about everyone in his life:
• his son, his wife, his brother, and his best friend.
• Troy always did what he thought was right.
7. Duty
• Duty of a father to his family.
• Troy Maxson thinks that a father's only real duty is to provide food and shelter. He doesn't think it's important for a father to show love to his son, and he doesn't feel his duties to his wife include fidelity. Troy has an affair, but doesn't believe it's necessarily wrong. He's provided for his wife and loves her, but his love now includes someone else.
8. Dissatisfaction
• Troy Maxson, is dissatisfied with his life. He's unhappy that his pro baseball dreams were stopped by racial discrimination.
• He feels trapped and unfulfilled in his job as a garbage collector.
• His son constantly disappoints him by not seeing the value of work.
• And even though he loves his wife, Troy finds a new love in another woman's arms.
• Fences explores how dissatisfaction can lead to behavior that destroys a person's life and the lives of those around them.
Everyone exits after this scene except Troy
Cory enters, angry that his father told his football coach that he couldn't play
Troy accuses Cory of lying to him – he hasn't kept up with his chores, and he hasn't kept his job at the A&P.
Cory tells Troy that he never listens; he says that his boss, Mr. Stawicki, is holding his job for him until after the season.
Cory accuses his father of purposely holding him back out of jealousy.
Troy tells his son that now he's got one strike and he warns the boy not to strike out.
Quotes
Troy: "Death ain't nothing but a fastball on the outside corner.

Rose: "I told him if he wasn't the marrying kind, then move out the way so the marrying kind could find me."

Lyons:"You got to take the crookeds with the straights. That's what Papa used to say."
Symbols
The fence:
In the beginning and the middle of the play the fence is half built but at the end it is completely built. "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." Troy used it as a way to keep people including death and later his own son out while Rose uses it to keep her family together
Raynell's Garden:
At the end of the play Raynell rushes out to see if her garden grew. It didn't since she had just planted the day before. It may symbolize new life in the face of death.
Baseball:
Troy uses baseball as a symbol for just about everything from comparing it to death to describing his relationship with his wife and mistress. He said that when he found Rose he was "safe" and when he found Alberta he wanted to "steal second."
Brief History

Fences was a playwright written by August Wilson and was the 6th installment of a 10 play series titled “Pittsburgh Cycle”

Each play is based on the evolution of the African American experience in America during mid 1900’s.

First premiered in Eugene O’Neill Theatre center in Waterford, Connecticut.

Broadway debut on 46th street on March 26th, 1987 and closed in 1988 after 525 performances.

Broadway revival of the play premiered on April 26th, 2010 with Kenny Leon as the director and Denzel Washington as Troy Washington.
Act Two
Scene One

• Cory talks to Rose about joining the football team again and Rose says she will try to convince Troy when he returns from bailing Gabe out of jail.

• Troy returns with Bono and says he bailed Gabe out for 50 dollars. Cory enters the yard and all three of them start talking about the fence Rose has been asking Troy to build. Bono and Troy subliminally speak on Troy’s affair through fence terms. When Cory returns to the house Troy becomes more straightforward and admits to his affair with Alberta to Bono.

• Bono leaves and Troy enters the house and tells Rose how he managed to get Gabe back for 50 dollars. Then Troy suddenly changes the subject and hesitantly tells Rose that he is going to the father of a baby of another woman. Rose, feeling extremely betrayed and hurt, yells at Troy and argues with him over his decisions. As she tries to walk away, Troy violently grabs her right before Cory comes from behind his father and knocks him to the ground with a blow to the chest. Rose pulls Troy back as he lunges at Cory. Troy warns Cory to stay from around him and to live carefully.
Act Two
Scene Two
Six months later, Rose wants to speak with Troy.
Rose wants Troy to come home after work, she feels he doesn't spend time with her anymore.
Alberta might be having a baby so Troy wants to go and visit her.
Rose informs Troy, they put Gabe in the mental hospital.
Rose accuses Troy of selling his brother out for money in which Troy denied.
The phone rings, the hospital calls informing that Alberta died having the baby.
Rose goes back in the house where Troy is talking to Death.
Troy tells Death "when he comes he better be ready for a fight".
Act 2
Scene 3
Three days later Rose was sitting on the porch listening to a ballgame.
Troy enters with new baby Raynell
Troy tells Rose the baby is innocent and doesn't have a mother.
Troy asks Rose for help with the baby.
Rose agrees because Raynell does not deserve to be without a mother figure.
Rose tells Troy she is no longer his woman.
Full transcript