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Symbolism, Central Conflict and Character Essay

August Wilson’s Fences remains as one of the most renowned play until now because of its good facility to discuss intricate social issues about the African Americans coupled with carefully designed literary devices such as symbolisms and metaphors. The play tackles about the queer and complicated life of African American Troy Maxson, the protagonist of the story, a former baseball player star in the Negro League who becomes a garbage lifter in the sanitary department.

Among the central conflicts that the play has successfully portrayed is the wide discrimination of the Whites to the African Americans even though slavery has already totally eliminated in their way of life. Through the characterization of Troy and his friend Bono, the coming of age within the cycle of damaged Black Americans’ manhood is perfectly discussed in the play. Troy and are portrayed in the story as individuals with problematic childhood days due to their cruel and oppressive fathers. Troy’s father is described as an evil that no woman stayed with him for a long time and this makes Troy grew up almost motherless.

His father even raped the girl he loves just only to give Troy a lesson for his disobedience. Bono, likewise, had experienced difficulty with regards to his father who is described as a man who prevents to stay in one place for long and moves often from one woman to another. Unlike Troy, Bono did not feel the fathering role that Troy’s father provided to his children. Through the characterizations of Troy and Bono, the idea of the Blacks about becoming a man was carefully revealed. For the Africans during that time, becoming a man means leaving the man that raised them due to a violent conflict.

Troy and Bono achieved their manhood when they left their abusive and cruel fathers and started to live their own lives. Another characterization that adds to the portrayal of the wide discrimination among the African Americans because of the color of their skin, in addition, is the type of job that Troy and Bono have. The setting of the story tells that the Blacks had already escaped from the cruelty of slavery. Nevertheless, even though slavery was totally vanished in their way of life, the Africans are still subjected to injustices in the society.

For instance, the play portrays Troy and Bono as garbage lifters in the sanitary department, the job that is considered only for the Black Americans. Even though Troy was promoted in the later part of the story, there is still an implied discrimination among them since Troy had to work hard just only to become a truck driver of the garbage collector. The play portrays how the Africans are discriminated during that time as they hold menial jobs working as domestic servants, sharecroppers, maritime workers, common laborers and farmers (Shannon 20).

Likewise, wide discrimination among colors is perfectly justified when Troy is ignored in the field baseball because he is a Black. Their race is being discriminated even in the sports that everybody should enjoy. Furthermore, the story exposes the backward, racial, ignorant, and unjust ways of the Old South through the traits and attitudes shared by the main protagonist of the play. Troy is described as an irresponsible father through the various symbolisms and metaphors present in the plot of the story.

The train where Troy rides going back to Rose symbolizes his hope to change his life but also reveals his weakness as a man who committed infidelity with a woman named Alberta. Troy even asked Rose to take care of Raynell, the fruit of his sin with Alberta. Another symbolism that adds to the negative portrayal of the Blacks is the unfinished fence around the backyard of Troy’s family. The unfinished fence, symbolizes Troy’s laziness and lack of commitment to marriage. Troy, aside from being impure in their relationship, does like want to marry Rose since he is afraid of commitment.

Moreover, the house itself of Troy’s family is also a metaphor of Troy’s imperfection. Aside from being the symbol of his pride, since providing a house means responsible fathering to a family, the house of Troy is also the object of shame because it was built from the perspiration of Gabriel Maxson, his brother who was given check as casualty of the World War II. Apart from the negative implications about the Africans, there are also scenes in the story which give a hint about the brighter side of the characters in the story.

Rose, the wife of Troy, epitomizes the unconditional love that a woman can ever give to a man. In the play, Rose wants to finish the fence around their backyard because the fence for Rose symbolizes the security and commitment of her love to Troy. Rose wants their family, amidst the hardships and difficulties, to be reunited and secured with enduring love and relationship. Another invincible act that Rose has done is her acceptance of the child Raynell who epitomizes the sin and infidelity of her husband Troy.

Rose, by accepting the child, indeed sacrificed her hatred for the sin that her husband committed. Another good implication about the Africans as portrayed in the story is their hope to become a responsible father amidst their personal limitations and problems. Troy’s father, eve though described as cruel and abusive, shows a responsible fathering to his children since he did not left them in the absence of their mother. Likewise, Troy somehow served as a responsible father when he owned the responsibility of taking care for Raynell.

Despite his bad implications as head of the family, he still managed to become a justified father since he never left and ignored his family. Amidst the problems that they encountered, Troy still managed to be with his family unlike the father of Bono who keeps on moving from one woman to another. In total, August Wilson Fences is to be considered as a great work of art since it illuminates important issues about the African Americans through the successful facility of literary devices such as symbolisms and metaphors. Works Cited Shannon, Sandra Garrett. August Wilson’s Fences. CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003.


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