Oct 22, 2019 in Literature



The Fences, a play by August Wilson, is a play starts with Troy and Bono drinking and talking on a Friday night after receiving their pay. The play unfolds to reveal the kind of interaction the different players had at a time when racism was largely in practice. Troy, the protagonist is a father, a husband, and a brother. One gets to know the true character of Troy through the stories he narrates and his interaction with his family and friends. Though the play’s setting revolves around the African-American experience, it is a depiction of the struggle that the African-American endured in light of racism. Throughout the play, Troy’s character is a clear manifestation of the true conservative role of an African man but whose selfishness and resistance to change influences the cohesion of his family negatively.

Background statement

The fence opens in the year 1953 when Troy was 53 years old. He is alluring in the enthusiasm with which he dramatizes his entire life. Troy, the protagonist of the play, grew up with his dad who did not give much attention to him, which eventually forced him to run away from his home and fend for himself. Soon, he was arrested for murder and robbery and convicted for fifteen years. In prison, he became a baseball player but he could not join the professional league due to his. When he leaves prison, he is unable to accept the reality and the changes that have taken place and still blame the white for his problems. This prompts his friend Bono to comments that, “You got some Uncle Remus in your blood,”. The impact of the negligence he went through as a man affects his whole adult life and affects his affiliation with people he loves as portrayed in the next section of this essay.


Character Analysis of Troy

In the play, Troy is an insensitive and uncaring man as evidenced by how he treats his wife, his brother, and his sons. On so many occasions, he gets into arguments with his sons, and they, in most cases, almost end up violently. He prohibits his son from following his dream for invalid reasons. In addition, he cheats on his wife with another woman and openly admits it to his wife. On numerous occurrences, he is about to beat up his wife, and his son intervenes to protect the mother. Tory turns against the son and beats him badly. He did not show up at the hearing to determine whether his brother should be put in an asylum or not, and this led to a ruling that the brother be put in the asylum. These actions could be explained by the fact that he was raised by an abusive father who neglected him and did not care for him. On most occasions, the father was not around to take care of him and he had to mold his character himself. Troy’s father used to beat him whenever he was wrong and forced him to do chores. One day, the father asked Troy to tie a mole, which he gladly did. After that, he went out with a girl, but the mole loosened itself from the ties and ran away. The father found out about it and started looking for Troy to punish him. Seeing his father looking for him, Troy fled but came back to rescue his girlfriend from the father’s molestations. He received a thorough beating and a black eye from the father, and this prompted him to run away from home. Thus, he became a man at a tender age of 14. For this reason, Troy did not learn how to be sensitive to other people’s feelings.

Troy has always come across as a very rigid man. The people close to him try to make him realize that times are no longer the same as before, but he finds it difficult to believe. Ever since the time he got out of jail, he is unable to accept the fact that times have changed and that his own son has a better chance of attaining his dreams than him. This results in a lot of confrontation between the two. Troy cannot accept the fact that even black people can play football and baseball, and thus, prevents his son from playing the game. Cory, his son, takes this as an indication that his father cannot accept the fact that he is better than him. However, Troy says that the reason he cannot allow his son to play is that he wants to protect him from getting hurt during the games. His wife, Rose, also tries to explain to him that all races now play the games together, but he finds it impossible to comprehend. This reveals that Troy is very rigid and does not readily accept the changes that take place in society. His hamartia prevents him from accepting the changes that have taken place. He does not believe what everyone around him is telling him and continues following his imprudent paths of delusion. This ruins his son’s vision of playing football and attending college. Because of this, he shuts everybody out and does not open up to any of his family members, which makes him lonely and miserable. In fact, his family only learns of his inner feelings and obstacles during his funeral.

The protagonist is a man who lives in a delusional world and sometimes loses touch with the reality. In this play, Troy attempts to fight with death on several occasions. At one point, after the death of his mistress, Troy tries to fight with death and even dares it to get to his family after constructing a fence that has been incomplete for some time. He feels that he can prevent death by completing the fence, yet it is common knowledge that death is elusive.

Tory is a man who is engrossed in disappointment in his heart, which arises from the fact that he was not able to play the professional basketball. While he was serving his jail term for 15 years, Troy became a skillful player and even played in the Negro leagues. However, his main desire was to play in the major leagues. Fifteen years in prison made him too old to qualify to play these games. Troy does not see this as the reason why he does not participate in the major league. He blames discrimination against the black as the main reason why he was unable to join the league. He transfers the anger and disappointment in his heart onto his son and prevents him from taking part in the games.

Troy is a racist who blames all the bad things that happen to him on the white men. In one of the stories, Troy described the devil as a white entrepreneur, who exploits the black customers. It is paramount to note that the play’s timing is at a time when the tension between races was high, and at that time, Troy worked as a garbage man. He always complained that only white men had the permission to drive the trucks. However, despite the complaints, Troy did not have a driving license. His continued complaints got him a promotion but then he was not able to interact with his friends anymore. In addition, Troy feels that he has lost the dream of joining the professional basketball team because he was black with little regard that he was too old to play when he was released from jail. Due to his hard feelings towards the whites, he stops his son from pursuing his dream of becoming a professional football player.

Troy appears to be an escapist as evidenced by the affair he had with Alberta. Although he takes up all his responsibilities, he sometimes feels overwhelmed. When his wife demands to know why he has been having an affair, he explains that Alberta was an escape from all the tasks and responsibilities facing him at his home. He says that her house does not require fixing, which has given him a chance of forgetting that he has the responsibility of being a father, a father, and a brother. While at Alberta’s house, he forgets the hard labor and the endless paychecks that needs cashing.

According to Menson-Furr, Troy is a control freak who wants to be in control of everything around him. Troy demanded that his family and the people around him live a practical and responsible life. However, he did not live the same kind of life. He, having an affair, was allowable, and he could rebel against the practices laid down by the whites. Everyone else was prohibited to do the same. He is a typical man who hides his real feelings and avoids being viewed as a weakling. He is unwilling to expose his emotions and his family does not know how much he cared for them until the day he died. This is already too late for the family since they have always viewed him as a man who did not care much about them. According to his son, Troy prevented him from joining professional football out of jealousy.

Although there are so many negative qualities about Troy, it is important to note that he also has some good and admirable ones. First, Troy prevents his son from playing any form of sports for fear that he will end up getting hurt. This is an apparent indication that he cares for his son. In addition, Troy goes to work every day so that he can provide for his family, despite the fact he is old. He plays his role as a husband, provider, and a father to his sons. Moreover, when he gets involved with another woman, he still gives financial support to his first wife, Rosa, an indication that while he is not there for her physically; he still cares and takes up responsibilities. He also takes up the responsibility of taking care of the childe his mistress Alberta is carrying. He also bails his own brother out of jail, which exposes the caring side of his character.


Troy is both a modern tragic hero and a villain. Troy is a traditional man who grew up on his own due to his father’s mistreatments and absence when he was growing up. He had to take care of himself, but this led him astray, and he was eventually arrested and charged with murder and robbery. While serving his jail term, he was able to exploit his talent to become a good player. However, due to his age, he was not able to continue with the professional football. At around this time, oppression of the black by the whites was on its peak, and Troy blamed this for all his problems. He is adamant to accept that the times have changed and the oppression against the black was on the decline. He still has his racist’s tendencies and calls the whites names. He turns out to be a selfish, self-centered, and stubborn old man who lives in an unreal world. He constantly fights with his sons and wife and goes ahead to have an affair behind his wife’s back to escape from his reality. However, beneath this stubborn surface there is a caring and a responsible man. He bails his brother out of jail, provides for his wife and sons, and even takes responsibility over a pregnancy outside his marriage. He is an interesting man, a good story-teller, and a good listener. Unfortunately, his family learns about how much he cared about them after his death and after enduring all the negative actions that separated the family.


Related essays