"Fences" and "The Piano Lesson" are two extraordinary works created by August Wilson. Throughout these two plays there is a constant struggle while at the same time these stories revolve around a similar theme or symbol. In "Fences", the idea of building the "fence" is very similar to the "piano" in "The Piano Lesson". August Wilson did not name his play, Fences, simply because the dramatic action depends strongly on the building of a fence in the Maxson's backyard. Rather, the characters lives change around the fence-building project which serves as both a literal and a figurative device, representing the relationships that bond and break in the arena of the backyard. The fact that Rose wants the fence built adds meaning to her character because she sees the fence as something positive and necessary. Bono observes that Rose wants the fence built to hold in her loved ones.
Bono also observes that to some people, fences keep people out and push people away. Bono indicates that Troy pushes Rose away from him by cheating on her. Troy's lack of commitment to finishing the fence parallels his lack of commitment in his marriage. The fence appears finished only in the final scene of the play, when Troy dies and the family reunites. The wholeness of the fence comes to mean the strength of the Maxson family and ironically the strength of the man who tore them apart, who also brings them together one more time, in death.
In "The Piano Lesson" by August Wilson, the central symbol of the play is the 137-year-old piano, an object that incarnates the family history. It takes on a number of meanings through the course of its life. A gift purchased through the exchange for slaves, it originally exemplifies the interchangeability of person and object under the system of slavery. This traffic in flesh reaffirms a white kinship network at the expense of black ones.
These two symbols in these plays have a very similar...