Core 161: Intro to Literature
A Formalist Approach to Fences
In 1985, August Wilson published Fences, which was one of his ten plays that explained the experiences African Americans had in the United States at the time (Meyer 1516). The play focuses on the main character Troy Maxson’s life and the decisions that he has made. With the play focusing on Troy, it allows the reader to understand situations that African American men, women, and teenagers were facing during this time. Through a formalist criticism I will examine parts of the play that will provide analysis to symbols in the story.
In the beginning of the play, the reader is informed of how exceptionally well Troy played baseball and that he could not play professionally due to the fact that he was African American. This plays a crucial role later on in the play when his son Corey is being recruited for football and his father wants him to get a job. Troy talks about how the right fielder for the Yankees is hitting .269 and he hit .432 with thirty-seven home runs. He has also seen hundreds of African Americans play baseball better than Jackie Robinson. However, due to the fact that he drank every Friday after he cashed his paycheck it is possible that he could also be drunk at this point as he tells a story about meeting death and then another story about meeting the devil. Before the story about the devil, Troy’s son from a previous marriage Lyons enters and asks his father if he can have ten dollars. Troy is annoyed with this because Lyons does not have a job and every Friday which is pay check day Lyons comes to Troy and asks for ten dollars. In the next scene, Troy is angered that Cory went to football practice instead of helping him out with the building a fence at their house. The reader is then introduced to Troy’s brother Gabriel. In the next scene, Corey explains to his dad that he is no longer working during the week at the A&P. This is...
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