Senior Thesis

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John Isaac
Mrs. Vittiglio
E71H-6
1/19/12
Racial Segregation: Neglect in Fences and Black Boy
In the 1900s, racism and segregation were major issues for African Americans who were living in South. These people were not treated as equals to the white people. The play Fences and the memoir Black Boy exhibit the neglect, caused by the absence and loss of a parent for African Americans, because of a time of racial segregation presiding in the 1900s. In addition towards this, African Americans suffered numerous hardships, prejudice, and discrimination. These were all compounds to the effects of segregation.

The first primary source that proves this, is a play known as Fences written by August Wilson. Troy, the main character struggles with providing for his family and cheating death because of racial discrimination. He lives in a dysfunctional family with his wife Rose and sons Cory and Lyons. Originally, Troy worked as a garbage man. But recently according to Bono, “[Troy’s] gonna be the first colored driver. Ain’t got to do nothing but sit up there and read the paper like them white fellows” (Wilson). Troy was originally kicked out of his father’s house, so he repeats the cycle by kicking Cory out of the house for disrespecting him. Cory, however, later forgives his father by attending Troy’s funeral.

This play has some arguments that are used to criticize its apparent concept. Wilson’s use of setting was simplistic as it took place in a single scene in the main character’s yard. Troy says, “You [Cory] live in my house…sleep your behind on my bedclothes…fill your belly up with my food…cause you my son. You my flesh and blood. Not cause I like you! Cause it’s my duty to Isaac 2 take care of you” (Wilson 97). Troy is jealous of Cory getting a college scholarship for football, because Troy wasn’t allowed to play in the major leagues, by his race. Each act and scene is combined through unity and family issues to move the drama and intrigue the audience. Adultery is a form of neglect in this play because Troy cheats on Rose and has a child with a woman named Alberta. He failed in his parental responsibilities and now his wife becomes the stronghold for his home as a woman. Troy’s relationship with his family is also depicted in the second source, where the author struggles with failed family relationships.

The second source is the memoir titled Black Boy by Richard Wright, starring as the main protagonist and narrator. He lives during the time period before the Civil Rights era, unlike Troy. Deep in the heart of the south in the 1920s was rampart prejudice against blacks. Richard’s father also deserts the family while Richard undergoes starvation as a result of poverty from segregation. If you’re not white, “they’ll call you a colored man when you grow up…” (Wright 49). Richard had to work numerous jobs just to help feed the family. But just as Cory in Fences did, Richard forgave his father as quoted: I forgave him and pitied him as my eyes looked past him to the unpainted wooden shack. My father was a black peasant who had gone to the city seeking life, but fled. The same city that lifted me in burning arms and borne me toward alien and undreamed of shores. (Wright 43) Richard’s father like Troy originally abandoned the family to have a new relationship with another woman. Ella, Richard’s mother, becomes the new stronghold for the family to help care for Richard and provide food while the father does not commit to his parental responsibilities.

Isaac 3
Certain critics of the memoir have their own opinions to say regarding the memoir. Ralph K. White criticizes the memoir as having genetic ambiguity and dishonesty. Some criticize the memoir for racial profanity, as seen in “That’s what we do to niggers who don’t pay their bills,” one man tells Richard (Wright 184). African Americans in the south were referred to as “niggers”...
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