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Fences is a play by August Wilson. It is centered on racism and stereotypes that are much proven to still exist by the role that Troy partakes. Troy is a fifteen-year-old father who struggles to provide for his family. He plays baseball but, despite his amazing talent, he is not allowed to play in the pro league. His perception prompts him that is because he is not white. Thus, Troy is “not able to make good money and save for his future life.” In his school life, Troy was forced to quit after the teacher argued that “a black man” lacked the ability to do a brilliant piece of writing like Troy did and he was charged of “plagiarism” unfairly. The situation got worse when the school principle supported the teacher on the issue. Troy works as a garbage man but he gets angered by the disapproval of African Americans to drive the garbage trucks. He confronts his boss at once, Mr. Rand, and asks him for the reasons.
Troy Maxson, according to Bono, was a great baseball player who did very well in the so called “Negro leagues” but was never allowed to play in the “white teams.” This is unlike Jackie Robinson, whose success, as well as the success of other black players, was influenced by Troy. The assumption is that “Troy was born at the wrong time.”
Troy’s life revolves around stereotypes and racism. He does blame his “hard life” and lack of opportunities. These were influenced by his skin color significantly. The question is whether racism and stereotypes are what was truly behind his unfortunate life, despite the fact that other African American baseball players, like Jackie Robinson, entered the “whites’ teams”. Racism’s and stereotype’s roles in Troy’s life are what of concern in this paper.
Troy feels that the problems of racism and stereotypes prevail in his life and influence it greatly. However, their roles are set to ensure that he remains strong and a fighter of circumstances; the fences. Troy is supposed to struggle through the racist traditional American life and support his family fully. However, Troy does not fight back. He takes racism as a discouragement. Troy’s greatest disappointment was due to his denial to play “pro baseball”, despite being a homegrown king of “Negro leagues” based on racial discrimination. Due to this, he does not support his son’s desire to play football. He argues that “Cory will suffer the same sort of heart ache.” Due to racism, in this case, Troy denies that his son Cory will have the opportunity to chase his dream of becoming a football player. The role of racism, in such an instance, is too demeaning as Troy feels that if his son follows the same route he trudged on, he will face the same wrath - disappointment and heartache.
Troy drops out of school due to the stereotype that his institution at Pittsburg had as far as the ability of a “black student” was concerned. Having written a quality piece of work, the teacher and the school principle gang up and accuse him of plagiarism. With no other options left, Troy quits school and turns to self-educate in the regional library. Stereotype, in this case, costs Troy education. This fact haunts him later in life when he struggles to provide for his family and even his children see him as a failure and a jealous father. For instance, Cory does accuse his father of jealousy saying “you just scared am going to be better than you” (Wilson 2008, 1.4.166) after he declined to sign the assent paper for him to pursue his football dream as well as preventing the presence of the recruiter. Troy is not driven by anything else other than the desire to prevent his son from his earlier tribulations, which was far much influenced by stereotypical ideologies he held strongly.
According to Wilson (2008), racism and stereotypes make Troy a caring father. For instance, once he breaks his silence by telling Rose that “I got sense enough not to let my boy get hurt playing no sports” (1.3.123). In this case, Troy halts the son’s dream to play football not out of him being jealous, but does this out of a fatherly love and urge to care for his son.
The play Fences by August Wilson depicts a number of conflicts amidst the various circumstances. Troy, as depicted in the play, is possessed by “harmatia” which is interpreted as a “complete miss of the mark” (Wilson, 2008). Troy makes his own decisions and he holds to them fully. For instance, he sternly condemns his son’s chase of the football dream. Every other person around him tries to help him realize that things have changed in the course of time and Cory will have a better chance if allowed to follow his dream, but he still fails to understand that. His wife Rose points out that “there are lots of colored boys playing ball now” but this also does not convince Troy. Bono argues that “times have changed, Troy, you just come along too early” (Wilson 2008, 1.1.77). His son Cory manages to point out the current black baseball players, naming “Hank Aaron” as one of the famous players, but it falls on deaf ears. Troy dismisses all the related arguments telling his son that “the white man is not going to let him get anywhere with football” (Wilson 2008, 1.2.78). Troy’s refusal to comprehend that times have changed causes many conflicts in the play Fences by August Wilson. Troy does not give in to what other people around him argue about. Instead, he makes choices of his own and does things based on personal apparitions.
The circumstances in this play challenge the beliefs that Troy holds so dearly. Troy beliefs are influenced by what he underwent through, by his perception and misfortunes, based on the practice of racism in America. This makes him think that stereotypes are still rampart in the society his family thrives in. However, the situations in this play challenges such beliefs, as Cory wishes to pursue his dream to the end, but a traditional father’s bad treatment a deprives him from the chance. A lot has changed with time but Troy still sincerely believes that a white man will never allow the prosperity of a black skinned man. Thus, such views challenge the situation in this play in a major way.
Despite all the efforts of his dear wife Rose and friend Bono, Troy is resistant to change. He remains adamant to the assumption that the African Americans will never be given a chance to live in favorable conditions. Troy does not bow to change and he is unable to change himself.
The play’s plot revolves around racism and stereotypes in the American society. August Wilson practically depicts the misappropriations that befell Troy based on the assumption that he was “a black man”. However, these stereotypes are easy to overcome. As it has been justified by Rose, Troy’s wife, things have changed and many African Americans now play baseball. The situation was quite different when Troy was a fifteen-year-old baseball expert. Bono argues the problem is that Troy was just born too early. This fact justifies that issues are no longer the way they used to be anymore. Stereotypes could be overcome, racism is defeated and all people have equal chances despite the color of the skin. Thus, this play manages to make a suggestion that Troy’s fears and beliefs are not so complex and one can overcome them.
In conclusion, Fences by August Wilson is a superb piece of writing that has managed to bring out a conflict in an outstanding manner. The diverse perceptions of the concerns; Troy and fences in his life which are involved in this work, are well addressed. Troy’s way of percepting reality has been fuelled by racism and stereotypical woes that were inflicted on him in his youth. His beliefs have changed insignificantly or have not changed at all since then. He has every reason to help his son by asking him early enough not to continue wasting time in the field where a white man dominates. This is because he will suffer heartache and disappointment in the end because a white man will not allow him to be a success despite his prowess. In my opinion, influenced by the reading of the respective work, I do sincerely believe that much has changed since the past. Racism is no longer an active practice, stereotypes are shunned and everyone has equal opportunities in life. Racism and stereotypical beliefs have been internationally eliminated. They no longer lead to misunderstandings. Traditional ideologies have been washed away. In the history of America, during the young years of Troy and his peers, a black skinned person was not given equal opportunities to develop and flourish as did the white people. However, with time things have changed, human rights have been developed and each person now has equal chances to prosper in life. Troy fails to comprehend this concept. His views are influenced by the traditional beliefs and practices and sidelining. Hence, the only option he sees is to deny Cory a chance of his lifetime to chase his dream.