Professor Christine Warrington
College Writing II
The Effects of Symbolism in Fences
In 1987, August Wilson’s “Fences” was a part of his Pittsburg Cycle of dramas of the 20th Century. These plays were used to “examine important elements of African American experiences” (Gardner 1331). The symbolisms in the play are used to tell the late life story of Troy Maxon and his relationship with family. From the start of the play, there is conflict and foreshadowing that shows Troy’s own belief that he has failed in life and that the world did not give him what he deserved. He believes that he has to venture outside of his family to find relief. At the start of the play, Wilson takes the audience into the seemingly happy life of Troy Maxon. The author then makes it clear that he felt like a failure and was not happy. The first symbol that is seen is the difference between the white people and the black people. Troy takes a stand and asks why black people never get to drive the trash trucks. Most of his coworkers believe that he will be fired. This theme of not being appreciated and believing that something is not enough is seen through all the symbols used in this drama. A second symbol seen is sports and dreams of the future. Troy had been in the Negro League and played baseball until he was over 40 years old. The problem presents itself when Troy is overlooked by the recently desegregated professional baseball league because of his age. His dreams of playing for the professional white league were smashed, and he believed that he had nothing to show his worth in the later years. This defeat in his career also defeated Troy mentally. From then on, he saw his family and his life as a failure that he wanted to escape from, yet he could not shake the feeling of responsibility to them. Troy’s first son, Lyons, is accepted by Troy. Lyons is a failure in Troy’s eyes and so Troy believes...
Cited: Wilson, August. Fences. Literature: A Portable Anthology. Ed. Janet E. Gardner,
3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2012. 1053-1111. Print.
Gardner, Janet, Beverly Lawn, Jack Ridl, Peter Schakel, eds. Literature: A Portable Anthology. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. Print.
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