Analysis of Troy from the Play Fences

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The lead actor in the play Fences is Troy Maxson. His role in the play is used to highlight the play’s main focus, which is the negative consequences of discord and bigotry, as well as the hope for positive race relations in the future. Troy’s story exemplifies the hardship that African Americans faced during the 1950s and earlier when apartheid and bigotry were at their height, and the effect it had on them and their families.
The name Maxson is a combination of two letters, Mason and Dixon, which are taken from the unseen line Mason Dixon. The Mason-Dixon Line represented a border that separated states that had slaves from those that were free. The name is hence a representation of Troy’s persona as an individual who has been in between two opposing sides for most parts of his life.

Racism prevented African Americans from having an equal right with whites. Troy experienced this first hand. He was an experienced and great baseball player however due to racism people of color were not allowed to play in the major leagues (Wilson 1159). This incident scarred Troy thereby having a great impact on the choices he makes while raising his children. His self-created stories and illusions may have arisen from the fact that he was denied his dream due to a difference in color of the skin.

Troy is a hardworking and responsible individual. He works hard to support his family and provide for them. This is seen throughout the play. Each and every Friday, payday, he goes home and gives his wife, Rose, all his earnings (Wilson 1162), so that she can plan for it and buy meals. He also reaffirms to his wife that he does not mess up his pay (Wilson 1175). Troy considers his family as his responsibility and job. He strives to make sure they have all that is needed, a roof, meals, and clothes. Troy tells his son “It’s my job it’s my responsibility! A man got to take care of his family.” (Wilson 1166). When Troy got his first child Lyon, life was hard but he went on to being a robber and steal three times as much so that he can get money to fend for Lyon and the mother (Wilson 1170)

He sets his priorities right as seen from the discussion he had with his son Cory when asked why he can’t buy a television (Wilson 1165). Troy preferred to fix the roof first which cost approximately the same amount as the television (Wilson 1165).

Troy generally creates conflict with all he interacts with from his sons, wife to his best friend Bono. He regards his views and philosophies as the only ones that matter hence cannot accept those of others. His views that the only way to earn an income is through a job, has made him disagree with both of his sons.

He does not agree with his eldest son Lyon on his music career and choices as he does not see it as a base of earning an income. He tells Lyon, “…wanna be a musician running around in them clubs and things then you learn to take care of yourself” (Wilson 1161) and encourages him to go look for a decent job (Wilson 1161). He sees Cory’s decision to play football as foolish and prefers for him to learn how to fix vehicles or an activity that can make him earn a living (Wilson 1159). This is due to the experiences he had as a baseball player. Rose tries to tell him that “They got lots of colored boys playing ball now” (Wilson 1159). Bono also tries to make him realize times have changed, “Times have changed, Troy, you just come along too early.” (Wilson 1159). However, he does not listen. Tory goes an extra mile to even jeopardize Cory’s football career when he learned that Cory had quit his job so as to concentrate on football. He went to see the coach and told him Cory can’t play football (Wilson 1171). Troy sees his action as a way of protecting his son from disappointment. He tells Rose, “I don’t want him to be like me! I want him to move as far away from my life as he can get” (Wilson 1166).

He is generally a loyal individual. This is seen when he talks about shopping at Bella with Rose despite the fact that shopping at Bella is more expensive than shopping at A&P. Troy tells his wife “I spend money where am treated right”. (Wilson 1159). “What sense that makes me when I got money to spend it somewhere else and ignore the person who done right by me” (Wilson 1159). This depicts his loyal, however over the play his loyalty is tested as he cheats on Rose. She stood by him for eighteen years and has been with him, however, Troy cheated on her and had a child out of wedlock (Wilson 1173). This is an act of betrayal to his wife as well as to his family. He is also seen as a man who can shoulder all the responsibilities brought to him and the challenges associated with a family as well as deal with the pressure associated with all of it. This perception changes in the course of the play as seen from his reason of cheating. He tells Rose “she gives me a different idea a different understanding about myself, I can step out of this house and get away from the pressure and problems” (Wilson 1173).

In summary, Troy is used as an example to show the effects of racism, prejudice, and segregation has on individuals as well as the generations to come. His hamartia makes him miss the mark with his sons as he loses them both. He didn’t get an opportunity to raise Lyon since he was in prison due to the robbery in a bid to fend for his family, and his stand on football made him lose Cory. He also loses his wife due to cheating and getting a baby outside wedlock.

Reference

Wilson, August. Fences. 1986. Play.

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