How one survives the past affects the future. History- personal and cultural The American Dream Family
Family/ marriage Fathers/sons Death/ Baseball Seeds/ Growth The Blues
Fences- literal and figurative they keep people in and keep people out Trains– freedom, new beginnings The Devil- Troy's struggle with life. The devil is always bringing news of death
Troy Maxson Jim Bono Rose Lyons Gabriel Cory Raynell
The Hillin Pittsburg PA Time is 1957- eve of 1960’s Before legal freedoms became social realities for African Americans. The description of the setting provides a lot of clues to Troy's character.
The unfinished fence
Symbolic of things left “undone’ relates to his baseball career his marriage his relationship with Alberta his parenting of Lyons, Raynell, Cory What is he trying to keep out/ trying to keep in?
In the yard there is a baseball bat and a ball of rags tied to a tree. Troy uses baseball terms and images as a way of explaining his battle with death his quarrel with Cory his reasons for cheating
Later we learn that Troy was only able to get the house because of his mentally unstable brother. Gabe was injured in the war and receives disability checks. The house is a source of pride and shame.
Act 1.1- Friday Ritual
Troy and Bono arrive home and share a pint of gin. They talk of work and we learn Troy is to report to the Commissioners office next week. He has asked “why do you have the white mens driving and the coloreds lifting?” Thecivil rights issue of equal opportunities is introduced.
Bono asks him about Alberta- Troy denies any involvement. Rose joins them in the yard. They argue about where to shop- the A&P or Bella’s. When Rose brings up Cory’s football recruitment, Troy reveals his bitter experience with baseball.
Rose warns Troy he will “drink himself to death” Troy responds by comparing death to “a fastball on the outside corner” He tells a story of how he wrestled death for three days and won. This story is a metaphor for Troy's life, he has always wrestled with death/ living and when it gets hard he’d “reach way down deep inside myself and find him the strength to do him one better”
Lyons arrives- another Friday night ritual- asks to borrow ten dollars. Troy teases him and Lyons warns him not to judge him. He tells him, “you can’t change me Pop, I’m thirty-four years old. If you wanted to change me you should have been there when I was growing up” Troy was in jail at the time
Act 1.2- Saturday Morning Ritual
Rose is hanging laundry singing a spiritual about protection with a fence, a fence found in Jesus. Troy enters grumpy and they have a disagreement regarding Rose playing the numbers. Rose uses Pope as an example of good that comes from hitting a number.
Troy points out Pope as being a fool because he mistreats his own people. Troy starts complaining about Cory playing sports and Rose sends him into the house to get coffee as Gabe approaches. Gabe has moved out of Troy's house. He questions Troy about whether or not he is mad at him.
Gabe warns Troy – when he hears the hellhounds approaching. This is symbolic of the trouble brewing for Troy. Troy tells Rose about his guilty feelings over using Gabe's pension to buy their house. He leaves to go to Taylors without working on the fence.
Act 1.3-Saturday afternoon
We meet Cory, Troy and Rose’s son. He is a back from football practice. Troyand Cory work on the fence. Cory wants his dad to buy a TV and Troy informs him of the impracticality of that idea. They get into a heated discussion about sports and race.
Troy crushes Cory’s chances to be recruited by demanding that Coryget’s his job at the A&P back. Cory painfully asks his dad- “how come you ain’t never liked me?” Troy responds, “What law is there say’s I got to like you?”
The legacy of Troy’s past prevents him from seeing that Cory’s future might benefit from playing sports. It could lead to an education- He tries to educate Cory about responsibility , how a man should provide for his family first, sometimes leaving his own dreams behind
Rose enters after Cory leaves and tries to get Troy to admit he was just too old to play baseball. Troy responds he gives all he can give to his family- He can only mange survival not anything else.
Act 1.4--Friday Ritual
Friday again- Payday pint in the back yard Bono and Rose Before Troy and Bono arrive- Cory is off to practice. Rose warns him to clean his room but he hurries off.
Troy and Bono come in in high spirits. We learn Troy has run down to Taylors before coming home. Hestarts singing a song his Dad taught him “Old Blue” same song he taught to Cory. He has been made a driver.
Lyons arrives and pays back the ten dollars he owes Troy. We learn Troy does not have a drivers license. Gabe arrives with a flower for Rose- Lyons invites Troy to come hear him play- Mood is lighthearted.
Rose tells Troy he must sign those papers for Cory- The three men, Troy, Lyons and Bono talk about Cory growing up. Troy tells about his own passage into manhood. A sad tale of how his father ran him off. We learn about Troy's spending time in jail for killing a man.
Lyons goes off to pick up Bonnie, Bono goes home- Cory enters and confronts Troy about telling his coach he had to quit the team. In a fit of anger he tells Troy” You just scared I’m gonna be better than you, that’s all” He has crossed the line- Troy tells him “that’s strike one. Don’t you strike out!”
Cory is swinging the bat at the ball of rags tied to the tree. Gabe has been arrested. Troy and Bono return from bailing Gabe out of jail. Bono and Troy work on the fence, Bono tries to warn Troy about Alberta. This is the third time he has done so.
Both Cory and Troy question why Rose wants a fence. Troy says, “What the hell is she keeping out with it? She ain’t got nothing nobody want” Bono responds”Some people build fences to keep people out…and other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you. She loves you”
Bono tells Troy he admires him, always has but warns him he is doing Rose wrong. Rose enters- she and Troy talk about Gabe and if he should be put back into the hospital. Troy tells Rose about Alberta and the baby. Baseball motif is back as he tries to explain his relationship with Alberta
Rose speak of fractured families and promises. Plant imagery, is used to reveal her feelings “ I planted a seed and watched and prayed over it. I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom. And it didn’t take me no eighteen years to find out the soil was hard and rocky and it wasn’t never gonna bloom”
Cory enters as his father grabs Rose by the arm. He hits him and knocks Troy down Troy warns him “That’s strike two”
Act 2.2- Thursday afternoon, six months later
Rose confronts Troy about -not coming home on Fridays - committing his brother to the hospital - getting half of Gabe's check - living on borrowed time Phone rings and we learn Albertahad the baby anddied in childbirth. Troy calls death and challenges him.
Act 2.3-Three days later, evening
Final out of game is called on the radio. Troy enter with his daughter and Rose goes into the house. Troy talks to the baby about being homeless and riding the trains. He sings a lullaby to the baby. Rose re enters andagrees to raise the baby but rebuffs him.
Act 2.4- Friday Ritual
Ritual is altered. Lyons comes by before Troy is home to payback money- Rose is off to church- not cooking dinner. Cory has graduated and is looking for a job. He sees his father and walks out. Troy acknowledges that he’s coming home and everyone is leaving.
Troy all alone sings “Old Blue” Bono arrives . We learn that the promotion Troy asked for has isolated him form his community. Climax Cory enters and he and Troy argue. Cory confronts him about the affair and the baby, about Troy using Gabe's money to build the house.
When Troy threatens to throw him out Cory picks up the bat and swings it at his father. They wrestle over it and Troy almost strikes his own child with it but instead kicks him out. We end with Troy calling death to come and get him.
The morning of Troy’s funeral. We see Raynell come out in her night gown poking in the garden. Looking for signs of new growth, of life. Cory enters in his uniform, he is now a corporal in the Marines.
Play ends with -Rose helping Cory to understand what it takes for him to be a man. -Cory and Raynell singing Troy’s song - Gabe blowing his horn to tell St Peter to open the gates of heaven for Troy.
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