The play “Fences” by Lloyd Richards is mostly the story of Troy Maxson. A man of many words, some of which although may not be particularly nice. He is an elderly, large black man who used to be a home run hitter in the Negro league, but by the time of the integration of professional Baseball, Troy was too old to benefit from it. This caused Troy to become the man he is today. Throughout the play the reader sees in depth of what kind of man Troy Maxson really is. Yes, he is far from a perfect man, but he has an inner strength that can inspire, which makes him, above all, memorable.
As a result of having his dreams ultimately shattered Troy is vulnerable. Not just vulnerable to others, but by believing in the self-created illusions he has created to cope with his drastic fall from living his dream to working at a dead end job. While being so susceptible to his own created world Troy is more than comfortable with living in his fictitious fantasy. This is seen when Troy tries to convince his friend Bono that is relationship with a women called Alberta was nothing consensual, when in reality it is obvious he was having an affair with the lady (page 1703). Throughout the whole play the readers get an idea of where the Title “Fences” come from. Troy Maxson’s character causes conflicts with everyone else, and in doing so placing metaphorical “fences” around him and the ones that care about him. With these fences up all around him he rejects and puts down the dreams and desires of others because they differ from his own philosophy. There are many examples of this throughout the play, but the one that seems to stand out the most would be when he tries to completely tear down his son’s dream of playing professional football (page 1716-1717).
Troy Maxson’s charter although represents more than just a man who is bitter from past experiences; he represents human nature’s unwillingness to adjust to social change. Just like how the white men viewed black people, even after segregation was in full swing, they still viewed them as inferior beings. The same concept can be seen in Troy. Troy constantly uses baseball to describe his actions as if baseball was still a major role in his day to day life. When he talks about facing death, he uses baseball terminology, comparing a face-off with the grim reaper to a duel between a pitcher and a batter (1706). When he bullies his son Cory, he warns him: “You swung the bat and didn’t hit it. That’s strike one.” (1726). So with this Troy becomes the perfect example for a tragic hero. Doing what he sees fit through his own eyes even though the people around him tell him that his actions will have drastic side effects, but he still stubbornly strides on pursuing his own course of action.
As terrible as it may seem the experiences Troy went through were not uncommon. In fact drones of skilled African American players could not experience playing on the professional level. Sadly they were bound to the Negro leagues due to the color of their skin, thus for having their stats lost to legend. And according to Frank Deford only after about fifty years of the Negro leagues existence are the skills and talent of these Negro League players beginning honored by modern day baseball (Deford).
Deford, Frank. “Negro League Baseball.” Smithsonian 41.7 (2013): 73-76. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. Richards, Lloyd. “Fences.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Robert Sweig. 10th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2012, 945-946. Print
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