Fences: On Stubbornness and Baseball Essay

Haven’t Found The Relevant Content? Hire a Subject Expert to Help You With
Fences: On Stubbornness and Baseball Essay
Post Your Own Question And Get A Custom Answer
Hire Writer

Introduction

Fences is a tragic play by August Wilson, premiered in 1985. It tells of a black man in the 1950’s USA, Troy Maxson, and his relationships with his family and only friend, Bono. The play received critical acclaim, and, in 2013, a film adaptation. As a tragedy, Fences shows its central character’s downfall, caused by his flaws. This essay will examine some of the characters and themes of the play.

Summary

The entirety of the play takes place in front of Troy Maxson’s, the main character’s house. As he interacts with and eventually alienates his friend and family, the viewer learns more about the personal flaws — stubbornness, inflexibility, selfishness — which causes him to conflict with those who trust him. After he drives away his wife, brother, two sons, and only friend, he has one final bout with Death — whom he describes as a white, hooded figure — and dies. His broken family reunites for his funeral, and his brother, who believes himself to be Archangel Gabriel, blows his trumpet in an attempt to open the gates to Heaven.

Themes

Baseball is a significant theme in the play and serves as a central part of Troy’s character and history. His greatest regret is his failure to make it into the Major League despite allegedly being a sufficiently capable player. He blames systemic racism for it: “don’t come telling me I was too old. I just wasn’t the right color” (Wilson, 2017, p. 42). Baseball metaphors occupy a significant part of Troy’s vernacular, such as referring to mistakes as “strikes,” or his place in life as “standing on first [base].” Even the play’s title, Fences, is a reference to “swinging for the fences” in addition to the literal and metaphorical fences Troy builds that keep the other characters out — or in. However, there is an argument that “the entire social, racial, and political world view Troy derives from baseball is misguided” (Letzler, 2014, p. 302). Whether one agrees with this or not, America’s national pastime plays an integral part in the story.

As Troy has three children a significant part from each other, the difference between generations is put into perspective. It has been pointed out that these children were born “precisely seventeen years apart, represent Troy’s paternal responsibilities to three successive generations” (Nadel, 2018, p. 74). While his relationship with Raynell is understandably short, and Lyons’ story happens mostly off-stage, it is his lack of understanding and subsequent falling out with Cory that the viewers see unfold.

Characters

The play’s characters are defined by their relationship with Troy Maxston, each highlighting a different flaw in him. It is his stubbornness that drives away his middle son, Cory. He gets invited to college on a football scholarship, but Troy goes to significant lengths to prevent him from being accepted. He claims that the same racism that kept him out of the Major League will affect his son, as well. Even after being shown successful non-white athletes, he refuses to admit that times have changed and heed anyone’s experiences but his own. The play does not make it clear whether his fatherly protectiveness or jealousy cause that his son might succeed where he failed. In the end, the viewers see Cory making his way in life, having joined the US Marine Corps.

Lyons, representing the second generation of the Maxstons, followed a different path from Cory. While his father had dominated Cory’s life, Troy was absent for most of Lyons’ childhood and youth. Lyons also has a strong aspiration his father disapproves of: music. This disapproval is not as evident as with Cory, but Troy again refuses to acknowledge it, or see him perform when he joins a band. Their relationship seems to be purely transactional, as Lyons visits occasionally to borrow ten dollars. However, it also shows that Troy feels some obligation or duty towards his son since he lends him the money. Later, when Lyons establishes a source of income and tries to repay his debts, his father refuses to take it or not present at all. By the end, Lyons finds himself serving a prison sentence for fraud, but finds the people to form a band even there, and intends to continue his musical career after his release.

His wife Rose falls victim to his selfishness and unwillingness to let an opportunity pass. He appears bored and complacent with his family life, driving him to have an affair with another woman. Although Troy has difficulty justifying it, he feels no remorse for it, again falling back on his baseball metaphors: “after eighteen years I wanted to steal second” (Wilson, 2017, p. 73). Rose confides that she had also thought about an affair and reminds him that he is not “the only one who’s got wants and needs” (Wilson, 2017, p. 74). It falls on deaf ears as her husband, again, refuses to acknowledge anyone’s perspective but his own.

Troy’s relationship with Gabriel, his war veteran brother, is already deteriorating at the beginning of the play. Gabriel received a large pension from the government, which Troy spent to buy their house. This decision is initially justified since Gabe’s head injury left him “in no condition to manage that money” (Wilson, 2017, p. 31). However, he eventually desires a degree of independence and moves out, noting at every visit that “Troy’s mad at me” (Wilson, 2017, p. 28). Finally, Troy signs the papers that allow his brother to be institutionalized, claiming that he had signed nothing but a release form, but since he is illiterate, the authorities might have tricked him.

Discussion

Fences uses its themes to connect with a broad audience. The play’s tragedy and Troy’s flaws are universal, not uniquely African-American or American in general. While racism plays a significant role in the main character’s worldview, the play, its events show that although it may not be gone entirely, things have improved over his lifetime. It is telling that when he speaks about his fight with Death, Troy describes a white-robed figure with a hood. This similarity has not gone unnoticed: “by depicting Death as a Klansman, Troy explicitly links his wrestling match to his struggles against racial injustice” (Davis, 2014, p. 57). Despite this view, other characters suggest that it was his advancing age that prevented him from furthering his baseball career, and no overt racism is shown in the play.

Conclusion

Fences is a modern drama, using the metaphor of baseball to show one man’s family destroyed through nobody’s faults but his own. He might have had the best intentions, but his stubbornness, short-sightedness and lack of empathy take the best of him in the end, costing him everyone he has loved. These flaws are universal, and the characters, including Troy, are presented as sympathetic and believable. The setting may be uniquely American, but under the surface, humans are still humans, and tragedy, drama, and Death spare no one.

Reference List

Davis, A. R. (2014) ‘Wrestling Jacob in the Book of Genesis and August Wilson’s Fences‘, Literature and Theology, 29(1), pp. 47-65.

Letzler, D. (2014) ‘Walking around the Fences: Troy Maxson and the ideology of “going down swinging”’, African American Review, 47(2-3), pp. 301-312.

Nadel, A. (2018) The theatre of August Wilson. London: Bloomsbury.

Wilson, A. (2017) Fences. Web.

Why Hire a Professional Essay Writer from MyHomeworkGeeks

Quality Urgent Essays

Domyhomeworkk online platform provides the best essay writing service ever received elsewhere, thanks to our professional essay writers. Experience gained in the 10+ years of being in the assignment writing industry is also an added advantage.

Professional and Experienced Academic Writers

A lot is done to maintain us as the best essay writing service provider. Besides owning a degree from a recognized university, a writer must pass the rigorous tests we take them through before they are considered eligible to offer urgent essay help on our website.

Affordable Urgent Assignment Help

Who said a reliable website should not be cheap also? While it is human nature to associate prices with quality, that does not always work. At domyhomeworkk.com, we guarantee you cheap and urgent essay help without compromising the quality.

24/7 Available Urgent Essay Writing Service

Whether it is a ‘write my essay for me cheap’ or ‘edit my essay’ order you want to request, always feel free to reach us at any time of the day. Our experts work in shifts to ensure that you access urgent essay writing services at any time of the day.

Plagiarism Free Essays Online

The punitive measures that come with plagiarized content are so harsh, and we understand that. We consequently ensure to write each client’s papers from scratch no matter how urgent the essay is. To acknowledge borrowed content, our quick writer references and cites the work.

Wow Customer Support 24/7

Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:
$0.00

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

So much stress and so little time? Take care of yourself: let us help you with your tasks. We offer all kinds of writing services.

Essays

Custom Essay Writing Services

No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.

Admissions

Admission and Business Papers

An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.

Editing

Editing and Proofreading

Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.

Coursework

Revision Support

If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.

Have a homework question? Get help from verified tutors now!

Sometimes it is hard to do all the work on your own

Let us help you get a good grade on your paper. Get professional help and free up your time for more important courses. Let us handle your;

  • Dissertations and Thesis
  • Essays
  • All Assignments

  • Research papers
  • Terms Papers
  • Online Classes