Fences is a play that is written by August Wilson with the aim of exploring and displaying a detailed interpretation concerning the life of one African-American family that lives in the twentieth century. Troy is portrayed as the main man of the family and he has a number of distinct qualities such as hardworking and also a pleasure seeker. He plays the role of a breadwinner in his family and he dominates his fellow worker Bono at their place of work. On the other hand, Rose, Troy’s wife, is portrayed to be a different character in terms of her qualities especially when compared to her husband, Troy. She loves her family and is also described as a typical Christian mother who often commits and volunteers in various church activities. Cory is the teenage son born to Troy and Rose. The character traits of rose as a loving, generous and kind woman are presented throughout the play.
To start with, Rose is portrayed as a loving mother who loves to keep her family together and in unity. Her request that Troy and Cory build a fence around their backyard symbolically shows her inner desire to keep her family together. She treasures her family and does everything she can to ensure that they are happy and contented despite the various challenges that face them. She appreciates her relationship with Troy despite that that he is a tough guy who at times proves to be hard to please. At the beginning of the play, Rose is seen as a devote wife who appreciates the great role that her husband, Troy has taken in her life. She could have been a completely different person and she admits that she could be leading a worse life were it not for her engagement with Troy. She, therefore, seeks to work hard and sacrifice all that could help to make the life of her entire family successful. ‘
To Rose, fence symbolically represents love and the desire of unity that she holds towards her family. It portrays the idea of love and nurturing. The whole idea that Rose suggests the building of the fence gives more details about her qualities as a caring and a loving woman. Even though Troy continuously disrespects Cory’s feelings and suggestions, Rose is always supporting him to strive harder and achieve his dream of becoming a footballer. To Cory, Rose is not only a mother but also a source of love, inspiration and understanding. The expression of Rose’s ideas gives more details about her character. The speeches that both Rose and Troy give exhibit great differences and they further portray the types of traits each person possessed.
Rose, in her speech, admits that she had failed herself considering that she highly depended on Troy, and had ended up becoming a mere housewife. She bitterly regrets her failings but she also confesses that she could not have made it in life to her current level if Troy had not become part of her life. She is, however, to have been a loyal and good loving wife to her husband despite the differences that exist between them. When conflict sets in between the couple, Rose takes time to reflect on everything that had occurred over the years that they had been together. She acknowledges that Troy had played a great and significant role in her life but she also accepts the reality that it was more difficult to continue in the same relationship that had ended up becoming toxic to her self-development.
Based on the speech of Rose, it can be confirmed that the couple had completely different qualities even though they had married for a long time. Rose’s speech shows that she was accommodating, peace-loving and also tolerant. She had put up with the arrogant behaviour of her husband for the many years that they had stayed together and all along she had remained to be a faithful and loyal wife to Troy. On the other hand, Troy’s speech confirms the indifference that existed between them. Even though he takes up the responsibility of the father and a man in the household, he had completely different qualities from his wife. He always discouraged his son from chasing after his dream of becoming a footballer, an aspect that one could not expect a father to possess.
In conclusion, the speeches of Rose and Troy gives many expressions about the types of personalities they possessed. Even though both of them were responsible people and they took up their responsibilities without hesitation, Rose was a loving and supportive character while Troy was more of a dictator and arrogant man. He failed to realise the role Rose had played in his life and he went ahead to introduce conflict in their marriage. When Cory, his son, tried to intervene between the conflict with the intention of restoring peace, Troy only increases the differences and further builds a beef with his son, finally making him leave.
Elkins, Marilyn. August Wilson: A Casebook. Routledge, 2013.
Shannon, Sandra Garrett. August Wilson’s Fences: A reference guide. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003.
Wilson, August, and Seret Scott. Fences. Connecticut Repertory Theatre, 1994.
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