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August Wilson's Fences Building Fences

3012 words - 12 pages

August Wilson's Fences - Building Fences

The first time I read August Wilson's Fences for english class, I was angry. I was angry at Troy Maxson, angry at him for having an affair, angry at him for denying his son, Cory, the opportunity for a football scholarship.I kept waiting for Troy to redeem himself in the end of the play, to change his mind about Cory, or to make up with Ruth somehow. I wanted to know why, and I didn't, couldn't understand. I had no intention of writing my research paper on this play, but as the semester continued, and I immersed myself in more literature, Fences was always in the back of my mind, and, more specifically, the character of Troy Maxson. What was Wilson trying to say with this piece? The more that this play stuck in my head, the more I was impressed with Wilson as a playwright. What talent, to create such a character, to produce a work that wouldn't leave me alone, but, as time wore on, produced more and more questions.

As I reflected more and more on Wilson's masterpiece, my anger turned to curiosity Instead of my curiosity waning, it grew. I felt like I was unraveling a huge ball of yarn. In a play about family, a million different issues lived. I was astounded at the number of issues that Wilson touched upon, issues ranging from family relationships, to problems in the workplace, racial tensions, and infidelity. And under each one of these was another, underlying issue, the reason, or the catalyst that enabled these to prevail. Part of the genius of this piece is that it is like an onion, with many layers, and can be interpreted on many different levels.

At first, I despised the character of Troy Maxson. I could not feel sympathy for a man who had achieved a certain level of satisfaction and stability in a life of struggle, and then threw it all away. Then, in class, a questionnaire was passed around asking the question of what made Troy a heroic character. Instead of writing that I found Troy despicable and without honor or dignity, I found myself listing several reasons why he was, in fact, heroic. I looked at why Troy Maxson did the things he did, instead of just looking at the things. I realized how difficult it was for a black man to make it in a white mans world during the fifties, when color alone influenced every aspect of life.

Fences can be viewed as a family play, it can also be viewed as a work specifically of the black man's place, or plight, in a predominantly white world. Either way, it has a very valuable message. It is a true art to be able to touch on so many aspects of life in a work, aspects that may be viewed differently by different people.. Wilson's work, and the character of Troy Maxson, makes me question many things, among them myself, as well as his intended message. This is why I am so in awe of Fences, and of Wilson's talent. This is why I am writing my paper on Fences.

I didn't know anything about August Wilson before I began my research. I was very surprised...

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