The play ‘fences’ brings out several cultural themes the main one being the use of power to determine peoples social status and the opportunities they are entitled. Power is misused on the African American citizens whereby fences are built to hinder the development of the African American citizens. White Americans are in power and thus the African Americans face substantial discrimination in their respective places. The baseball league is one of the opportunities the act of racism has greatly hindered the participation of the black Americans. The denial to participate in the baseball league is not based on performance but is greatly determined by the skin color.
Jim Bono claims that some people build fences to keep people inside while others build fences to keep others away. The white Americans in this case have build fences in the baseball league to lock out the African American talented players. They use that fence to keep them in power for many decades. The discrimination is as well seen in the sector of garbage collection whereby the African American workers take the role of garbage collection while their white counterparts take the easier part of driving the garbage trucks (Bogumil 34). The role played by the African American workers in this case is the most difficult and involve health risks since the workers are directly in contact with the garbage and thus infections are always impending.
Discrimination in any work place is aided by the use of power to oppress the African American workers. This means that the rights and the opportunities are not equally distributed. In case of promotion opportunities, the white would be considered in the fore front. Even in the informal sector, where discrimination is expected less, African Americans are not allowed to be promoted to become drivers despite the qualifications they may have.
The effect of Troy’s mistreatment greatly builds his character. In a kind of revenge Troy Maxson tries to build fences just like the whites have done to him, on the people he interacts with including his immediate family. His infidelity with Alberta builds a fence between him and his wife Rose. He denies father’s affection to his son Cory and goes a head in refusing to sign his football scholarship recruitment papers, he puts a signature on his brother’s commitment papers that his brother could not read, and leaves his workmate Bono when he gets a job as a truck driver. This shows how Troy tries to lock the other people outside some important opportunities just like the white Americans would do to him. He also creates a fence within himself when he drinks a lot when he gets that job of the garbage truck driver, to reflect the many years of mistreatment he has undergone through (Bogumil 40).
These incidences clearly show how the power influence on Troy has shaped his overall character in relation to his family and friends. He struggles with exercising discrimination even to himself, which can be seen as a form of revenge but it can be said the revenge is directed to the undeserving people.
The discrimination has as well shaped the character of Troy into two contradicting aspects. He has as much strength as his weaknesses. In his strength build from the continued discrimination, makes him struggle as a father, brother, a friend and as a husband. He also struggles to live as a black American in the early 1950s when racism was at its highest order. The ruling power of the whites presents many obstacles to the life of Troy. The career opportunities for Troy are greatly limited by the nature of restrictions imposed on the African American citizens. His dream career does not come true as he struggles to join the national league as a baseball player (Bogumil 37). The problems are worsened by his family background because he grew with no mother, unloving father and his life in prison. He is as well the keeper of his brother Gabe who got wounded in the Second World War working with the military.
Troy has grown to be responsible enough since came out of the prison and after the years of mistreatment, he takes care of his family, and especially his brother Gabe. He feels guilty for using his brother’s compensation funds from the military to offset his bills. Troy is very keen not to introduce his son to the baseball league just to spare him the potential discrimination he has went through. By this, he refuses to ignore the signing of his son’s scholarship papers (Bogumil 38). He has all the reasons to prove to his child that they are living in a world which do not value the plight of African American citizens.
Troy’s past life has not been smooth, having grown without a mother, and under the rule of unloving farther. He is convicted with crime of murder and forced to serve a jail term. He lost his former lover Alberta due to death. He is forced to take care of the children left behind. He marries his new wife Rose and struggles to convince her to take the role of caring for the children left by his former lover. Troy’s present life and his love to play baseball have been greatly compromised by the discriminatory power from the white Americans. He gets a new job as a garbage truck driver and his dream career gets trapped by racism (Shaw 284).
Alternatively, the misfortune or the relative success in the life of Troy can be attributed to his own shortcomings or choices. Wilson has expressed Troy as a person who lived in a world free to make own decisions and could have many chances to gain knowledge. He grew up without his mother and thus he was always confronted to make his own decisions since he was young. Whatever he learned in prison ended up not helping, he was trained on playing baseball, but later denied the entry to the career. He ends up being a garbage truck driver. His new job high depended on his personal character and not his training as a baseball player. His family life has also shaped the character he holds currently. Troy chose to be caring to his family and his ailing brother, something that helped built his character as a responsible father, brother, husband, and a friend to many. Also while in his new job, which was not influenced by the white power, he chooses to drink a lot to clear his thoughts about the past (Shaw 282). This drinking ruins his character substantially. This drinking was not influenced by discrimination he faced though he could argue in that perspective. Drinking is some one’s choice and it is not influenced by any circumstances.
Therefore Troy lived an African American life in the 1950s when the opportunities for black men did not exist. The civil rights movements had not yet grown roots in the United States of America. The character of this man is seen to have been largely influenced by the mistreatment he receives from the whites. Though part of his life is criminal, this is not influenced by mistreatment because he chose to become a murderer (Shaw 283).
The discomfort posed by the whites induces a sense of responsibility to his family and friends and thus he does not wish any one to go through what he has gone through already. This is shown by the fact that he discourages his son Cory from playing base ball to prevent any possible trauma from discrimination.
Troy portrays a real African man dominated by tradition and innovations. Despite the many obstacles presented by the white Americans, he executes his relevant roles as an African man. He is hard working, and withstands many mistreatments from the powerful white until he ends up being a garbage collector, a time when his career was paying very well. On the other hand Troy acts like an African American man because he does not belief in the stereo types placed on hardworking characters like him. He believes a man work to attain the goals set for an ideal man by the society. In conclusion, the discrimination has impacted Troy’s life both positively and negatively. On one hand, it has shaped his character of hard work. On the other hand, it has denied him his dream career and other opportunities.