Essay About Fences

Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, a Tony Award, and a Pulitzer Prize, Fences is among the most honored plays by any American of August Wilson’s generation. Set in 1957, it is one entry in Wilson’s cycle of ten plays representing the African American struggle during the ten decades of the twentieth century. Wilson wrote as a self-proclaimed Black Nationalist, but his mature plays were enthusiastically received by multiracial audiences, and Wilson recorded the pleasure he experienced when an eighty-seven-year-old Yugoslavian man spoke of his identification with Wilson’s characters. Wilson’s work delved so deeply into the world he knew that what he found there spoke far beyond his particular experience.

Certainly an awareness of the history of the oppression and exploitation suffered by African Americans plays a significant part in Wilson’s work. In Fences, the white baseball owners who have denied Troy and others their opportunity to play in the major leagues and the sanitation department officials who reserve the driving jobs for whites impose limits on black aspirations. Wilson refuses, however, to grant the oppressors and exploiters a place at the heart of African American life. Beyond question, they often place limiting external conditions upon that life. Wilson is concerned, though, not with the surrounding conditions of African American life but with the life itself. African Americans have, in Wilson’s eyes, their own identity, dignity, and significance. Troy Maxson is not defined by the limits that are imposed on him by a white-dominated society. His struggle is in part against those limits, to be sure. It is also, however, a struggle against his own demons. In the course of that struggle, he finds his strength. That is why his failure has the force of tragedy.

Essay on Fences, by August Wilson

1097 Words5 Pages

Racism is everywhere; it is all around us and at most times it resides within us. Racism basically refers to the characterization of people (ethnicity based) with certain distinct traits. It is a tool with which people use to distinguish themselves between each other, where some use it to purposely inflict verbal, physical or mental attacks on others while some use it to simply distinguish or differentiate from one another. It all depends on the context in which it is used. The play Fences by August Wilson, takes place during the late 1950’s through to 1965, a period of time when the fights against segregation are barely blossoming results. The main protagonist, Troy Maxson is an African American who works in the sanitation department; he…show more content…

He is the center of both small and large conflicts. His ability to believe in self-created illusions and his inability to accept the choices of others in life that differ from his own philosophy is what causes him to instigate conflicts. His philosophy is mainly based on experience, this experiences stem from his rough childhood, prison life, his baseball career and the discriminative hiring practices employed by his employers at the sanitation department. During this time frame, the segregation between blacks and whites was at its peak and this influence was the major governing factor to which Troy’s life was built upon. Throughout the play Troy is mostly seen as an average African American bowing down to racism and segregation. In the beginning of the play though (Act 1 Scene 1) Troy stands up to his white employers and questions them on why only white people are driving trucks and not the black people too. This is the first time Troy is seen standing up against racism and eventually becomes the first black truck driver.
The play is filled with multiple themes and motifs, one of which references Troy and Bono’s childhoods during the years of slavery. Both Troy and Bono grew up having difficult relationships with their fathers, their painful memories provide a context in which we can understand the similarities and differences of the generations

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