Review Of August Wilson’S Play Fences

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“Fences,” is a play written by August Wilson, taking place in 1950’s to the 1960’s. These decades were filled with political and social protests for the Civil Rights Movement and the integration efforts. Throughout this story there are struggles with racism, which is one of the biggest topics of this time period. The tones in this play are more serious and mostly focused on the aftermath of slavery and African American lives in the 1950’s. This play has a range of themes and touches on many important social issues that are still present in our current society. The main theme is race, but it also touches on mental health, family, and even hopes and dreams.

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August Wilson wrote “Fences,” to tell a story of Troy Maxson, an African American man living in America during these trying decades, struggling to make ends meet. In his prime, Troy, was an exceptional baseball player, but due to the color of his skin, never made it to the Major Leagues. He, instead, settled for being a trash collector on the streets of Pittsburgh, and this causes him and his family lots of frustrations and rocky relationships. The story represents this time period well, with the many struggles, because Troy had to deal with racism at his work. He isn’t allowed to drive the garbage truck because he was black. Troy holds his race as if it’s a burden, which goes alongside his worsening situation of being poor in America.

Although the play is called ‘Fences,” there is only really one fence in the story. Troy’s wife Rose wants him to build a fence around their yard. As he’s building it, he gets very lazy and uncommitted to finishing this project, much like how he was uncommitted to his marriage. Instead of building the fence, Troy goes out and cheats on his wife, causing problems in their family. Troy explains his actions with, “…She gives me a different idea…a different understanding about myself. I can step out of this house and get away from the pressure and the problems…be a different man” (Wilson). This theme of mental instability and family issues cause a lot more problems in this story.

As that’s all happening, Troy’s son, Cory, wants to start playing college football. At this point in time, black athletes have been finally integrated into the professional and college teams. Around this time during the Civil Rights Movement, the Brown vs. Board of Education laws declared segregation illegal, so Cory was able to get recruited by colleges. Troy got very jealous of this, because he was never able to make it as an athlete when he was younger. This is when we see Troy struggle with his masculinity and some mental health.

Throughout this play, August Wilson does a good job at sharing what it’s like to struggle through the hard decades, and how people tried to avoid their problems. Troy goes through racism, mental health issues, and family problems, but still pushes through it. This story shows the hardships of a family and uses a fence to symbolize keeping people out. This time period, during the Civil Rights Movement, set back a lot of people, but they never gave up. “Fences,” shows no matter a family dynamic or state of the society around you, the good always prevails.

31 August 2020

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