Darasia Bratton, Orlando Robledo, Evan O'Garro
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CHARACTER ANALYSIS:


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Troy Maxson (as depicted by Denzel Washington)

Troy Maxson is the main character of Fences and, while he is the protagonist, he isn't the most favorable person. He drinks heavily and has a habit of going off on tangents of made-up stories depicting his various interactions with Death and the Devil. He is convinced he was done wrong when he was rejected from becoming a professional baseball player, insisting that it was because he is a black man and black men weren't allowed to succeed when it is heavily implied it was because he was too old. This has left him riddled with insecurities which, along with his inability to read, leaves him as a ticking time bomb.



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Rose Maxson (as depicted Ariyan A. Johnson)

Rose Maxson is the second wife of Troy Maxson, and the mother of his second child. The couple married when Troy was released from prison and conceived a son who they named Cory. Rose is a typical 1950's housewife, who devotes her time to cooking, cleaning and taking care of her family, while her husband works as a garbage collector. Even though Rose is extremely devoted to Troy, she makes sure to put him in his place by scolding him for his crude sense of humor and correcting his exaggerated tales. Since she strongly believes in God, Rose believes that Troy will "have to answer" to God on "judgment day" for all his lies. Rose also prays to God, asking him to protect her family. She asks Troy to build a fence around their home, so she can keep him and Cory safe. Rose becomes heart broken when Troy admits to having an extramarital affair and getting the woman pregnant. Rose says that she has never strayed during their fifteen years of marriage and stops talking to Troy all together. Rose continues to tend to her household but she begins to come and go as she pleases without Troy's permission. Rose's character is challenged when Troy brings home his motherless child, Raynell, and asks Rose to help him raise the baby girl. Rose tells Troy that "[she'll] take care of [his] baby for [him]" because "[the child is] innocent." Rose finally takes control of her life when she tells her unfaithful husband that even though Raynell has a mother, he is now "a womanless man." Despite how their relationship ended, Rose had a deep love for Troy and acknowledges that "he meant to do more good than to do harm." Rose was a compassionate and understanding woman who deserved more love than she received and like the flower she was, she enabled those around her to bloom and grow from her tender love and care.


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Gabriel Maxson ( as depicted by Laurence Fishburne)

Gabriel Maxson is the brother of protagonist Troy Maxson. Although he may not be seen as some one who is right in the mind ever since a metal plate was put into his head after his World War 2 injury, he is one of the wisest characters in the story. The other characters see him as a fool because he talks about chasing hell hounds and bounding with St. Peter. His actions place a cloud over the eyes of Troy which makes him blind to Gabriel's warning and his own fate. Troy abuses Gabriel in the sense that he places him in a mental hospital just so he can claim some of his disability checks.







Significant Themes:
Power
A recurring theme in Fences is 'power'. There is always some struggle with power, be it Troy and Cory arguing that Cory is disrespectful, or Gabriel's lack of power due to his mental handicap. Troy's lack of control most likely stems from his being turned down for professional baseball because he was a man of color and an older one at that. He doesn't know how to read, which he feels is an embarrassing failure on his art. His insecurities are put in to play when his youngest son, Cory, is praised highly for his baseball skills-just as he was when he was younger-except now, the race barrier had diminished some. There were scouters coming down just to see Cory play, but even then Troy refused to accept it. He demand that Cory cut out his baseball nonsense and get a real job, and was shocked when Cory refused. From then on, the relationship between father and son was strained, as it was a constant battle between them; Troy refused to allow Cory to play (and since he wouldn't sign off on a permission slip, Cory couldn't play), and Cory refused to acknowledge such a childish man as his father. Troy's insistence over the years that he knew best and that Cory didn't need love and should be appreciative that he has a roof over his head lead up a physical dispute that ended with Cory being kicked out. With Cory out of the house, that was one less thing challenging Troy's superiority.

Distinguishing the present from the past
A major theme throughout the play "Fences" is Troy's struggle to let go of the past. When his son, Cory, asks him if he can pay college football, Troy says no. He doesn't want his son to be "involved in sports. Not after what they did to [him] in [baseball]." Since Troy was denied the right to play Major League Baseball when he was younger, he fears that Cory will end up just like him. He wants his son to get a job at the local "A&P Supermarket" and live a normal life, because sports will only destroy him.

Race
Race is prevalent in fences throughout the entirety of the play. Troy has a financial struggle in his household, and part of this is due to his race. He picks up garbage for a company and notices that only the white men get to drive the sanitation trucks. Another example is found in Cory, who ever so dearly wants to become a football player in college and the pros. He is chained down by his father who also had aspirations of playing professional baseball, but wasn’t able to achieve his dreams because of his age, although he thinks it was as a result of his race.



IMPORTANT SCENES:


(From Act One: Scene Three)
One of the most significant scenes in "Fences" is from Act One Scene Three: During this scene Troy and Cory argue about professional sports and African American players because Troy refuses to sign Cory's permission papers, which will allow him to play college football. Troy does not want Cory to play college football, but to get an actual job. Troy tries to convince Cory that he will not succeed in college or football because he is a negro and will be suppressed by the whites. This scene is vital to the play because it shows how Troy is living in the past because of "what [baseball] did to him" . Troy was not able to follow his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player because by the time negros were allowed to play Major League Baseball, Troy was too old. However, he believes he was denied the right to play baseball because of his race.


(From Act Two Scene One, Page 61)
"Some people build fences to keep people out...and other people build fences to keep people in."
Bono says this to Troy as they work on the fence that Rose wanted so much. They were in the midst of talking about Troy's affair when he brought it up. Following the quote, there are two sentences about how much Rose loves Troy, which is Bono's way of almost extending the metaphor; Rose wants a fence to keep her family in, and Troy- arguably her most beloved-is constantly worming his way out. Troy seems to understand this metaphor, however subconsciously, as he makes constant allusions to it from there on out. When he kicked Cory out, he didn't just kick him out of the house, he kicked him out to the other side of the fence. Even Death is mentioned, as Troy wants to keep him outside the fence where he cannot harass his family.

(From Act two Scene Three)
After Troy explains to Rose that he has had a child with Raynell he is basically banished from his own household.His family members outraged by his actions, want nothing to do with him. When it came time to bring the baby home was a crucial event in the story because it would determine its fate. when Rose sees Troy on the bench singing to the baby she says, "you can't visit the sins of the father upon the child this child got a mother, but you're a womanless man." Rose takes the child in as her own regardless of the way it entered this world, but she refuses to honor Troy as her husband.






IMPORTANT VOCABULARY:

Act One: Scene One - Three
1. “Having a truck with the devil”: Being in the same league or status as the devil.
2. Eloquence (noun) : the practice of using language with fluency and aptness.
3. “Hellhounds”: Fiendish beasts that serve as watchdogs of hell.
4. Ramshackle (adjective) : closely made or held together.
5. “Fastball on the outside corner”: This refers to Troy's belief that Death is something that he can easily conquer and control.
6. Rogue (noun) : a dishonest, knavish person; scoundrel.
7. "You just come along too early”: This refers to Troy missing his chance to play Major League Baseball he was too old by the time negros were allowed to join the league.
8. Vulgar (adjective) : characterized by ignorance of or lack of good taste.
9. “That ain’t no paper job!”: An easy job.
10. Encompass (verb) : encircle; surround.

Page 62:
  • Alfalfa- A plant most commonly used to feed farm animals, like cows, sheep, horses, etc. and is most commonly harvested into hay.
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  • "ducking responsibility"- to avoid or hide from your responsibilities.
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  • "right as fireworks"- like fireworks; explosive, loud.
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  • "carrying on"-(an instance of) foolish, excited, or improper behavior.
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  • Frigidaire- another word for a refrigerator.
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  • "rolling around"- fooling around.
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  • Bunted- to head butt; butt using head or horns.
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  • Tarpaper- a heavy duty paper used in construction, used as waterproofing material.

1. Vigilant:Carefully observant or attentive, often to possible danger
2. Guile: Cunning and deceitful
3. Emulate: imitate, copy
4. Scrutiny: careful examination of something
5. Dubious: suspicious, full of uncertainty
6. Destitute: extremely poor
7. Archangel: an angel of high rank


SOCIAL CONCERNS
Family Dynamics
Over the course of the play, "Fences", Troy gradually breaks apart his family with his actions. He is unfaithful to his loving and devoted wife, Rose, and has an illegitimate child. Troy refuses to give his son, Cory, permission to play college football because of his own bitter past. He neglected his son, Lyons, when he was a child because he was in prison. Troy sent his brother, Gabriel, to a asylum because he was unable to read papers that were presented to him.
Everything fell apart because of Troy, but was later put back together once he died. Through his death Troy taught his family to forgive and love one another. Troy's actions and uncaring attitude represents social media in today's society. Today, American families tend to turn to social media as an outlet for their problems instead of going to one another. They rather tell the world their hardships than the ones who actually care about them. If families continue to neglect one another divorce and suicide/homicide rates will increase and the family bond will disintegrate altogether.


Selfishness
Throughout the play Troy commits several heinous actions that greatly effect the lives of the characters around him. He has an affair because he wishes to satisfy his own personal desires.He doesn't allow Cory to play football because he doesn't want there to be a possibility of being out shined by his son. His ego was hurt when he wasn't allowed to play professional baseball, so he doubts Cory's ability to make it professionally. Finally he imprisons his own brother into a mental asylum just so he can gain the benefits of his disability checks. Troy is more like a CEO than a father. Selfishness is a problem in America, especially in the corporate world where everyone just looks out for themselves. They seek to advance in the world without regarding the lives of others.


Treatment of Women
In "Fences," the way the women in Troy's life are treated is very questionable. When he was fourteen, he watched his father rape their neighbor that Troy had been fooling around with. It was at that moment that he began whooping his father with the same leather straps his father had whipped him with, deciding that his father was no man. While Troy was very obviously disgusted by his father's actions, one could argue that the thing he was most proud of was showing his father he was a man, not the fact that he stopped a sexual assault. Then with Rose, despite all his love for her, he turns around and has an affair with Alberta, a woman he met at his favorite bar. While he admits it was selfish of him to see another woman behind his wife's back, he actually turns his wife down when she asks if he'll stop seeing her. It is incredibly offensive and honestly heartbreaking to have the person you love say that you aren't enough for them, even if you gave basically your entire life for them. Rose put herself second only to Troy and he still put himself first, not thinking her important enough to stop for. The treatment of women in America is still very...questionable. Being put second while being the butt of all jokes, and not being taken seriously be it in court or at the workplaces (and for some women even at home) takes its toll on the women of America, and a woman just bringing it up could seriously harm whatever reputation she worked to build.