08 November 2012
Redefining Family Boundaries
In the play Fences, August Wilson explores family boundaries, casting the main character, Troy, as a modern day tragic hero. Troy encompasses the traits of Aristotle’s classic tragic hero, while also representing the modern every day man. Troy has a tragic flaw; or “hamartia”, is excessively arrogant, accepts his moral consequences of his actions, and lacks internal order(Aristotle). Early in the play, Troy and his wife, Rose, argue about a fence being built around their yard; Troy is opposed to this new construction because after serving a long prison sentence, he doesn’t want any other boundaries holding him back. Troy is trying to define his own boundaries in his life and figure out his identity. Through his journey in life, the decisions and mistakes he makes reflect those parallel of a modern day tragic hero’s characteristics.
Despite his stubbornness, troy genuinely cares for his family. He provides for his family, is faithful to his wife and saves carousing with his friend, Bono, for one night a week. In his attempt to do so, he remains blind to true needs of his family, particularly those of his son, Cory. Though, Cory has a good chance at becoming a football player and earning a scholarship to college, his father doesn’t agree with it. Troy rants as he says, “I told that boy about that football stuff. The white man ain’t gonna let him get nowhere with that football. I told him when he first come to me with it”(Wilson 1355). Here Troy rambles on as he explains the tensions between both groups of races and he and his son. Expressing his own cynicism with his experience with professional baseball, Troy hopes to protect his son from this same fate(Shafer, Drama Criticism vol. 31) Troy only has noble intentions to see his son succeed in life, but does not realize that he inhibits Cory to further his success through a football career.
Directly opposing Troy’s...