11 May 2011
Compare and Contrast
By August Wilson
Death of a Salesman
By Arthur Miller
August Wilson's Fences and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman warrant comparison. Wilson and Miller both execute dramatically different styles to articulate their independent perspectives of the struggles in maintaining respectful, trustworthy relationships between a father and his immediate family in the mid 1900s. In Wilson's Fences the central character, Troy Maxson, a black man is struggling internally in maintaining his respectful, trustworthy familial relationships with his wife. Wilson emphasizes this struggle metaphorically through the game of baseball and how it relates to the struggles Troy Maxson has with his marital relationship. In Miller's Death of a Salesman the central character, Willy's struggles are expressed internally as he fights with accepting reality by living in the past. Willy's nostalgia mindset prevents him from keeping up with the modernization of society and destroys his relationship with his son Biff Loman.
Throughout August Wilson's play Fences, the protagonist Troy Maxson struggles internally with his own manhood, as a black man that has been damaged early on in his life. To Troy, it is his manhood that defines if he has succeeded or failed in life. August Wilson presents the exposition using the interaction between Troy and the all the other characters in the story to address the internal conflict of fear and anger that Troy is coping with as a black man, husband and father at a turbulent time in America where progress is taking place rapidly for racial equality.
In Act I of Wilson's Fences Troy Maxson's interactions with his friend Bono, his wife Rose, eldest son Lyons Maxson and youngest son Cory Maxson occur on the back porch of his home. Troy's intellectual and philosophical responses with his family and close friend are about taking chances in life, especially as a black man in the 1950's, just as a baseball player does in the game of baseball. It is during one of Troy's conversations with Bono that the extramarital affair that Troy is having with Alberta without Rose and Troy's sons being aware.
In Act II, Troy informs Rose about his affair as he discloses that Alberta is pregnant with his child. It is at this point that the climax to Troy's internal conflict is exposed. Troy makes references to his life and his sense of accomplishments as a black man in the 1950's using the game of baseball as a metaphor to explain. As he discloses Alberta's pregnancy to Rose he says "Then when I saw that gal . . . she firmed up my backbone. And I got to thinking that if I tried . . . I just might be able to steal second" (Wilson, 70). In this quote Troy is explaining to Rose that he as a man took a chance and let his temptation get the best of him. Troy...