The Impact of Physical and Psychological Boundaries in August Wilson’s Fences
The early 1950’s was a time of enormous importance because of the Civil Rights Movement which emphasized equal rights for blacks and whites. According to the book Approaching Literature, this time period became very familiar to August Wilson, the author of the play Fences. Wilson, an African American man, was raised by his mother and his ex-convict father. For a short period of time, before moving back to his old neighborhood, Wilson lived in a primarily white neighborhood where he experienced the feeling of being on the “outside.” When he was in the ninth grade he had a teacher that believed there was no way he could have written an intelligent, twenty page research paper on Napoleon Bonaparte, so she accused him of plagiarism. This incident pushed Wilson to drop out of high school and teach himself. From that point on, he began educating himself by reading through the section of black authors in the local library. Wilson had strong views and opinions about the rights of African Americans. So much so, that he wrote quite a few plays concerning this major part of history. (1024) In Wilson’s play, Fences, how does he use psychological and physical boundaries to show the emotional separations between his characters? Baseball becomes the most prominent image in Wilson’s play. Troy Maxson, the protagonist of the play, spent many years learning and playing this game. Sheri Metzger, the author of An Essay on Fences, believes that “Baseball defines Troy Maxson’s life and provides the measure of his success.” (1) As we already know, in his prime, Troy was a great baseball player and he strongly believed that he was not given the opportunity to play in the major leagues because of the color of his skin. He constantly compared himself to the ball players that made it to the major leagues, such as Hank Aaron, saying “I can hit forty-three home runs right now” (1048)...
Cited: 1. Metzger, Sheri. “An essay on Fences.” Drama for Students. Detroit: Gale. From Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.
2. Schakel, Peter J., and Jack Ridl. "August Wilson 's Fences - A Form in Depth." Approaching Literature: Writing Reading Thinking. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2008. 1024-083. Print.
3. Weales, Gerald. “Review of Fences in the Commonweal, Volume CXIV, no. 10, May 22, 1987, pp. 320-21.” Drama for Students. Ed. David M. Galens. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. From Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.
4. Wessling, Joseph H. “Wilson’s Fences.” Explicator 57.2 (Winter 1999): 123-127. Rpt. In Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 222. Detroit: Gale, 2006. From Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.
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