Analysis of characters and symbols in Fences

This play is for the analysis of characters and metaphors..

Analysis of characters and symbols in Fences

This play is for the analysis of characters and metaphors tell us the story of Troy Maxon and his family.  From the very beginning of the paly we can see that there is conflict brewing and there are hints of coming events. Troy Maxon believes that he has been given the short end of the stick in his life and because of he has not gotten what he deserves in life. Because of that he believes that he has to go away from his family to find refuge and that is how the story starts and ends on this note as well

We see this play from the start to the end through the eyes of Troy Maxon as viewed by the audience. He is the main character in this drama and all the plot points revolve around him and his decisions, whether they are good or bad.  These motifs give us as the audience a better insight into the life of the African Americans in the late 50’s and early 60’s of the twentieth century. Some aspects of their lives were getting better in the sense of getting citizenship but this period of time was before the start of the civil rights movement and as such the African American Community were still suffering from segregation and many other forms of discrimination in their daily lives. They were yet to be truly accepted as part of the American culture by a large part of White Americans

The second part of this analysis is uniting of each act and scene through unity and relational issues and actions that keep the drama moving forward and keeping the audience intrigued as to what is to come in the future of the drama. Since Wilson really liked to use metaphors, the association between the metaphors is as an important facet as the metaphors themselves

The introduction to the drama strengthens the predicament of the African American to prepare the audience.  The audience needs to see the drama from the 1950s centred on the societal and economic circumstances of the African American.  The African Americans of that time were not considered to be citizens, and definitely considered to be one the lowest in the class structure of American.  Many African Americans from urban centres had moved to the North to find better fortunes but they were pushed aside and given only table scraps compared to the other communities.  It is this aspect that Wilson wants the audience to understand in this play.  He presents the fence in this part as well, so that the people can know the true importance of the fence as a symbol to be used throughout the play

Once the atmosphere and the setting of the play has been set, Wilson introduces the audience to the seemingly perfect life of Troy Maxon before the details of his life are slowly revealed and we see that he is not as happy as we had initially imagined him as being and that he thinks of himself as a failure in life.  The first symbol that we see is the difference between African Americans and White people.  Troy holds his ground when he asks why black people are never allowed to drive trash trucks.  Because of this small question most of his colleagues think that he will get fired.  By the end of the play we realize that Troy had taken a giant step for the African American community but he does not think that what he has done is enough.  This sense of inadequacy and lack of appreciation is a theme that will run out through the course of the play

A second relational symbolis sports and dreams of the future.  Troy had been playing in the Negro League till he was over 40 years of age and well past his prime.The problem in this regard starts when the new desegregated baseball league finally starts Troy are left out because of his age. His one opportunity to prove himself at the highest level is shattered. He started to believe that all the work he had done counts for nothing because he could make it to the bigger leagues. This defeat so late in his career mentally shatters Troy. From this time on he sees his family and his life as a failure and that is why he wanted to get away from them

This sense of failure continues with Troy’s relationship with his own son, Cory. Cory happens to be an excellent athlete and a great football player and yet because of his own sense of disappointment Troy fails to acknowledge his talents even when he is accepted by another college. Troy because of his own sense of failure tries to drag his son down with him by refusing him to go to college on a sports scholarship. This is however not the only time that he shows resentment for his son.  In Act 1, Scene 3, Cory asks Troy a question “How come you ain’t never liked me? He is very angry at being asked this question and tell his son“…it’s my duty to take care of you.  I owe a responsibility to you! We can see that Troy considers Cory to be nothing more than an irritation and we see that till the end when Cory arrives for Troy’s funeral only then we see an end to their animosity

Troy’s first son Lyons unlike Cory is accepted by Tony. The fact is that Lyons by being a failure himself does not remind Troy of his own failures and because of this he is easier to accept for Troy. Lyons always wanted to be a musician but he never became successful. For Troy Lyons failure to become a successful musician is the same as his failure to become a successful baseball player. He thinks that his son will soon accept his fate like him and accept a small job somewhere to try and survive. But we see that Lyons though defeated has not completely lost because his love for the music still persists and because of that he continues to pursue his dream

Rose is the symbol of the strong African American woman. She is completely dedicated to Troy and she has poured all of her heart and soul into this relationship and yet the tragedy for her is that he still seeks out the companionship of another. For Troy the affair is a way to distance himself from his family when in truth he is only distancing himself from his failures. Troy never leaves Rose but he continues to see Alberta even though he knows that Rose is aware of his infidelity. Rose is the one who even takes the call when the hospital called about Alberta’s death during child birth. We see the true strength of Rose when Troy brings home his illegitimate daughter and asks Rose for her help in raising her. We see her strength when she says to Troy that, “From right now…this child got a mother. But you is a womanless man.” These lines show the kind of courage and forgiveness as well as maturity of Rose, she has the goodness of heart to not blame a young child and even goes so far as to take responsibility for its upbringing. She shows Troy that for his infidelity he will not only have to take care of this child as well as the rest of the family but he will also never be loved for all this effort as well

While all these trails and conflicts are occurring within the action of the play the fence and baseball play an important role towards the explanation of Troy’s life. The fence is the representation of the knowledge of Troy’s extra marital affair even before it was revealed to his family. Rose had asked for the fence and this symbolically represents her will to keep the family together. Since Troy never really worked on the fence this symbolically shows that he did not care for Rose or his family nor did he want to work to preserve their relationship. The fence for him represents his imprisonment in this current state for him it is an acceptance of defeat, which is why he does not want to build it because he wanted to be free from it all

Troy constantly uses Baseball as a metaphor. For him Baseball is a metaphor of life, he uses this symbol because he feels that he is a failure in the new desegregated professional league and because of that he sees himself as a failure in life as well. For him the reference to baseball just reinforces his apparent lack of any kind of success and that creates even more problems between him and his family as the sense failure eats away at him. Rose also reminds him of his failures in life because she was always there in those times of failure. That is the reason why he wanted to be with Alberta because she was new and he was not burdened by the memories of his failures when he was with her

These symbols i.e the symbols of the fence and baseball are used throughout the play and in this drama they are used to indicate that Troy Maxon is unhappy with his life and he feels that he is a failure and because of that he wants to get away from his family. Even though it was not their fault he still wanted to avoid them to stop thinking about his own failures. Since he felt no real sense of responsibility to Lyons he treated him better and their relationship was also better because of that. He was jealous of Cory because of his success and these symbols of the fence and baseball are just a way for us to look into the mind of Troy Maxon and to see that it was a story of perceived failures but also the story of an African American man born in 1950’s.



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