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Fences that Protect and Hinder in Wilsons Fences - Essay Example

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Some fences are good to keep out bad people, but not all are good for one’s soul. August Wilson’s Fences is set at an industrial city in the United States sometime in the 1960s. The setting is important because it signifies America’s transition from racism to the enactment of legislation that enshrines civil rights…
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Fences that Protect and Hinder in Wilsons Fences
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"Fences that Protect and Hinder in Wilsons Fences"

Download file to see previous pages The play illustrates a realistic assessment of a family’s and an individual’s endeavors of finding their identities, while taking care of their families. Wilson uses characters, symbols, metaphors, and irony to depict the individual and family levels of racism, and how one family struggles to arise from personal, group, and social differences, in order to find their identities. The word “fences” symbolizes the reality that there are many kinds of fences, including the ones people put between each other and inside themselves that can protect and hinder individual growth, but it is possible to attain redemption from the fences that delimit people through free will and acceptance of other people’s and one’s weaknesses and mistakes. Some fences are built to exclude others and to hinder their growth. Troy’s time reflects widespread racial inequality that affects black people’s hopes and aspirations. For example, Bono does not even know that he can have a better home: “I thought only white folks had inside toilets and things”. As a black person living in poverty and not experiencing socio-economic opportunities, he has lost his ability to believe that he can deserve better. Bono’s inferiority complex, however, comes from his ancestors who suffered worst ordeals. Bono describes his father who has abandoned them: “My daddy [was] [s]earching out the New Land. That's what the old folks used to call it. See a fellow moving around from place to place...woman to woman...called it searching out the New Land” (Wilson 1.4.104). His father is typical of some black fathers who have abandoned their children, probably because of a mixture of individual unhappiness and feelings of lack of belongingness and self-development in a racist society. Troy has experienced barriers to his own success too. As an adult, he feels indifferent to the success of other black men: “I done seen a hundred niggers play baseball better than Jackie Robinson. Hell, I know some teams Jackie Robinson couldn't even make! What you talking about Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson wasn't nobody” (Wilson 1.1.82). He undermines Robinson’s skills because he feels bitter and envious for not having the same opportunities in life as Robinson did. These examples illustrate that society has built barriers between whites and minorities, wherein racist whites excluded black people from accessing equal opportunities to the American Dream. Not all fences are for exclusion because several characters in the play have established fences because they want to protect their families. Troy wants his children to be practical in their livelihood choices because he knows how hard it is to succeed as a young black man in a white man’s world. For example, he wants Cory to be realistic about his future: “He ought to go and get recruited in how to fix cars or something where he can make a living” (Wilson 1.1.69). He rejects the possibility that Cory can be famous in football when he himself did not get his rightful place in baseball. Barbara M. Whitehead asserts that fences serve as metaphors for protection for oneself and one’s family. Wilson portrays black people as family-centered people. In particular, Rose wants to fence in her loved ones. Bono tells his friend Troy: “Some people build fences to keep people out...and other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you all. She loves you” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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