Fences: Black People and Troy States

Topics: Black people, African American, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 7 (2424 words) Published: April 17, 2012

Name: Jondrea Williams
Date: 03/12/2012
English 1102
Drama Essay
“We black men have a hard enough time in our own struggle for justice, and already have enough enemies as it is, to make the drastic mistake of attacking each other and adding more weight to an already unbearable load.” (Malcolm X) African American men through time have struggled for a power that is out of their reach because others hold the power. August Wilson’s Fences displays a Psychological/Psychoanalytic approach by illuminating the inherent injustice in America’s treatment of African American males and the ways in which this racism affects and invades the societal units – the family. The conventional husband-wife and father-son conflicts are subservient to the plays discussion of racism. Fences is a drama that focuses on the characteristics of black life in a small neighbor in 1957 and the strains of society of the Maxson family. The play shows how the main character struggles against his oppressive past and his present surroundings, and when he tries to regain the power in his life, he fails, and ends up bringing down other with him. The protagonist, Troy Maxson is a restless trash-collector and former baseball player for the Negro League. In the play, Fences, Troy’s past dictates the kind of man he is today. His father, an abusive unsuccessful sharecropper, has had a major impact on Troy. Troy states, “But I’ll say this for him…he felt a responsibility toward us.” (1310; all page references are to class text Literature an Introduction to Reading and Writing, 5th ed.) This comment is the one good thing that Troy has to say about his father. Despite his father’s meanness, he did feel a sense of duty toward his family. After an incident with his father beating him unconscious, Troy left home at the age of fourteen (Wilson 1311). Leaving the oppressive rule of his father should have brought Troy a feeling of freedom, but Troy found the exact opposite. Troy found that there were no jobs or places for blacks to live so he began stealing to survive. He met a woman and got her pregnant with his first son. Lyons. The responsibility weighed on him because now he had two more mouths to feed (Wilson 1311). To take care of his family, he continued to steal which ended him jail for fifteen years and this is where he learned to play baseball. Troy Maxson was a great baseball player, at least according to his friend Bono. Although he played brilliantly for the “Negro Leagues”, by the time that blacks were allowed into the Major League Troy was too old. In Troy’s self-created illusion, he believes that he would have made it to the Major League if it were not for the color of his skin (Wilson 1292). Because he never earned the recognition or the money, which he felt he deserved, the discussion of professional sports will often send him into a tirade. In a discussion with Bono and Rose concerning Cory recruitment by a college football team, Troy states, “Jackie Robinson wasn’t nobody. I’m talking about if you could play ball then they ought to have let you play. Don’t care what color you were.” (1.1.78). Troy points out the blatant racism that kept him from a career in the major leagues. He was just as good, if not better, than many of the white players, and yet he did not get a shot. Troy, now fifty-three, has long retired from baseball; he makes a living for himself and his family as a garbage man, and nurses his well-earned bitterness. His life has been warped by white racism, and in turn, Troy is helpless to keep himself from warping his son’s life. Because of the racism, Troy has suffered in life and the tumultuous relationship with his father, Troy tries to control both is son’s lives. Troy has a low expectation of what black men can do with their lives, and is holding his sons back from obtaining successes that Troy could only dream about obtaining. Lyons is ambitious talented...
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