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August Wilson, Fences Discussion Questions

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1 August Wilson, Fences Discussion Questions
The Fence: Why does Troy always defer working on the fence? What does the fence stand for or symbolize? What are the different meanings discussed by characters in the play? Why is the title of the play in the plural (Fences)? Passages: P ; p. 61, p. 64, p. 77, p. 84, p. 89.

2 What generational conflicts are brought out in their relationships?
Father-Son Relationships: Troy—his father (pp ) Troy—Lyons (p. 13ff, p. 56) Troy—Cory (most of Act I, iii—pp ; p. 57, p. 72, pp ; p. 96, p. 100) What generational conflicts are brought out in their relationships? Responsibility vs. love driving parent-child relationships money work meaning of life/happiness Are Troy and Cory just repeating the cycle? Or, can the cycle ever be broken?

3 Racism: To what degree are the conflicts in this play caused by racism or racial/social inequality? Or, are they more universal? Why does the play highlight prejudice and inequality in sports (through Troy’s voice)? p. 33 How does this issue of racial inequality in sports intrude upon the father-son relationships? Is Troy too stubborn to acknowledge changes, especially positive ones? Does he simply blame racism for all his shortcomings? Or: Are some of the other characters “blind” to the ways in which racism limits their lives? For Troy, what does racism have to do with his responsibility for caring for his family? Why does Troy use the “N-word” so frequently? How does he use it and does its meaning change or vary?

4 Troy-Rose Relationship:
Does Troy love Rose? Why does he cheat on her? P ; 43, 49, 62-63, 66-72, 73-77, 78-79,

5 Troy: What is your take on his character: Is he simply a flawed hero, is he despicable, is he “typical”? Can you sympathize with him? Is Wilson’s portrayal of Troy too harsh? Does it confirm common prejudices or stereotypes about black men? What is the purpose of this character?

6 Can you see any links to other texts in this semester?
The Great Gatsby Huck Finn Poetry of Emily Dickinson The Scarlet Letter Son of the Forest The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin What does this text say about American identity, as well as the ability of the individual to achieve his or her dreams/goals?

7 What is the significance of some “minor” characters, such as Bono and Gabriel?

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