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Fences: Day To Day Obstacles Of The Average African American

1156 words - 5 pages

In Fences, August Wilson strives to accurately depict the social and economic situations of the time period the play is set in. He uses the plots, characters, and the characters’ relationships with each other to show the day-to-day obstacles the average African American faces in the mid 1900s and to show the various types of relationships between people during the time, from the black/white racial relationship to the relationship between man and woman. In particular, he uses Rose and Troy as examples of the typical relationship between a man and woman of the period – more specifically, he uses them to show the relationship and power structure between men and women. This relationship and power structure – the woman playing a subservient role to the strong, alpha male type – is definitely illustrated in Fences. Rose and Troy’s relationship depicts the conventional gender roles of the late 1950s-60s by displaying an unequal relationship between man and woman – one that was usual of the time period – with Rose often forced to concede her desires and wishes for Troy in her role as a dutiful housewife. Troy, a dominating man both in an out of his home life, plays a masculine, controlling, and often – though unintentional – selfish role in their relationship.
In Rose and Troy’s relationship, Rose is forced to be a deferential wife to Troy and, unknown to Troy, sacrifices a lot to keep him happy and be what she thinks of as an ideal wife. Rose’s ideas of what a wife should be seem to coincide with the 1950s idea on the obligations of a woman, the woman taking on a secondary position in contrast to the husband and preferable reticent and unassertive. The sacrificial approach Rose takes to the relationship and this idea of what kind of wife she should be says much of the opinions on the wife’s role at the time. When Troy cheats on Rose, the truth of what she’s had to do and what she’s had to give up is revealed. When Troy admits his adultery, Rose says, “I done tried to be everything a wife should be. Everything a wife could be” (Wilson 1367). The “everything a wife should show” shows how the wife is viewed in the time period. By putting Troy’s wishes over her own, Rose has been what is viewed as a perfect wife – one who will sacrifice her desires for her husband’s. Rose also says to him, angry and bitter, “What about my life! … You not the only one who’s got wants and needs. But I held on to you, Troy. I took all my feelings, my wants and needs, my dreams… and I buried them inside of you” (Wilson 1369). Rose speaks of the things she gave up for Troy. In adopting the supportive role of wife, she lost herself to Troy in the process. Her acquiescence came at a price Troy does not acknowledge. In being the best wife she could – passive to Troy, obedient, the dependent woman and mother – Rose not only shows the unfair balance of power between her and Troy (the uneven sacrifices, as well) but also the way a lot of woman may have felt in the 50s and...

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