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The play fences by August Wilson has a lot of discussions and themes in it. Some of them include theme of duty, men and masculinity, betrayal, hopes and dreams, dissatisfaction and family among others. However, one theme supersedes the all; men and masculinity. This seems to be the dominant theme in the play. It is often seen as a fathers-son play and most of the story is derived around the conflict and tension that Troy has with his son. This seems like a repeat of the mistakes that Troys dad did while raising him and projects them to his son Cory. At the end, the play leaves us in suspense and hope that Cory will be the one to break this cycle by raising his children differently. There is also a question of dilemma that the play focuses on; what it takes to be a good man. Dilemma in the sense that is a good man the one that pays duty to his family or one that follows his heart? The two hardly go hand-in-hand and most times one has to choose one at the expense of the other CITATION Aug86 \l 1033 (Wilson).
This paper is going to evaluate and explore the various meanings of the title as well as its significance in the play.
Although fences looks like a quite simple and straightforward title, it has been used figuratively and carries a lot of hidden meaning and significance in it. To see this, one has to read in between the lines and keenly evaluate the play at each stage. The literal meaning is derived from the actual fence that Troy and Rose spend most of their time building. Eventually, the fence is completed at the end of the play and takes longer than it was supposed to.
The fence takes a lot of time to be completed because every time that Troy should have been working on it, he goes down to Taylors to visit his mistress, Alberta. Safe to say, the first meaning of the neglected fence is a symbol of a man who neglects his family and duty to follow his heart and fun, Alberta.
Secondly, the fence is symbolic of a barrier between Troy and things he no longer want in his life. A fence is meant to separate sides, things or people. Troy has a couple of things he wishes to keep out of his life. For instance, we find that Troy did not have the best of relationship with his son and this is evident in the line below:
Cory: Tell Mama Ill be back for my things.
Troy: Theyll be on the other side of that fence
This is to show that this fence only aggravates the drift between Troy and his son. Instead of working their issues out, the two decide to stay out of each others lives. Troy, being the alpha male he is, wants to mark his boundaries and show Cory his son that he still is the king of the castle.
Finally, the fence is symbolic of the barrier that Troy puts between him and death. After learning that his mistress Alberta had died during childbirth, Troy did not take this very well. He set himself out on a mission to keep death from reaching him by building a literal fence; according to him, one which death cannot cross CITATION Pet90 \l 1033 (Wolfe).
BIBLIOGRAPHY Wilson, August. Fence: a play. New York: New American Library, 1986.
Wolfe, Peter. August Wilson. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1990.
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