Family and Father

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“Troy and Son” the Story of Family

In the play Fences, August Wilson illustrates how the sins of fathers lead to the deterioration of father-son relationships. As a result of these ruined relationships, sons often fail to reach their fullest potential in life or realize their dreams—dreams that they might have realized given healthy and nurturing fatherly support. However, Cory manages to forgive his father’s sins with forgiveness and August Wilson not only details the damage that is left in the wake of troubled father-son relationships, he also reveals the positive transformation that can occur when a young man is able to release his anger in the form of forgiveness and reclaim his life with a new and stronger sense of self.

In Fences, this ability to release and even become positively transformed by anger is a rare occurrence, because the story centers on a black family that struggles against tremendous economic and social challenges within the racist America of the 1950s. This setting is important because it serves as a major cause of the frustration that plagues the story's male characters. For example, at the head of this family is Troy Maxon, the son of a sharecropper whose farm sinks into debt. Thus, a deep sense of failure causes Troy's father to drive Troy's mother away and to turn into "the devil himself". In telling his story , Troy says, "All (daddy's) women run off and left him. He wasn't good for nobody....My daddy sent me out to do some plowing and I tied up Greyboy and went to fooling around with Joe Canewell's daughter....Now I thought (Daddy) was mad because I ain't done my work. But I see he was chasing me off so he could have the gal for himself" (52). Through his many amoral acts, Troy's father not only passes on his own race-related frustrations to Troy, but also his inability to face life's challenges with self-respect. At the same time, however, Troy's father does manage to take responsibility for his family, "My daddy ain't had them...
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