Essay Sample: Analysis of the Drama, 'Fences' by August Wilson

Published: 2023-05-09
Essay Sample: Analysis of the Drama, 'Fences' by August Wilson
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Analysis Character analysis Fences Dramatic literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1358 words
12 min read

The drama, Fences, is an expression of the living African Americans in the 1950s along with the nature of the relationship that existed between the minority Black community during the pre-Civil Rights era (Snodgrass 119). In the play, August Wilson shows Troy as a perpetrator who has caused harm to the surrounding society without realizing it. The character behaves in an insensitive way towards his wife, Rose, the brother Gabriel along with Cory, who is Troy's son (Wilson II). The main character reveals the underlying context of the drama. The author has, therefore, applied multiple literary elements that range from the plot, characters, symbols, to language in clarifying the significant themes in the poem regarding the nature of past life and the level of relationship that existed between people.

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The story begins on a Friday, which happens to the payday for Troy and Bono. The two characters decide to go to Troy's house to perform their routine rituals of drinking that occurs after every week. Back at work, the main character had inquired from their boss the reason why black employees were not allowed to operate Garbage trucks but to lift the garbage (Snodgrass 126). Therefore, he was ready enough to convene their ritual with Bono as he had enough reasons behind certain activities that happen back at work. After getting to the house, Troy got engrossed in a long epic story about in July of 1943 with death (Snodgrass 115). Before they could get more in-depth, Rose reminds his husband of the fence that she had requested to be completed to know the fate of their plans. Back in her mind, she knew it was a payday for Troy, so that would not be an issue. The responses that Troy gives make Bono conclude that Troy mistreats his family. The series of events reflects the nature of the relationship that existed by the individuals who belonged to the minority community along with those who lived in the era of pre-Civil rights.


The main character in the play is Troy Maxson. He forms the protagonist of Fences, and he is a fifty-year-old African American man (Snodgrass 117). The character works for the Department of sanitation to lift garbage into trucks. Besides, the character is also a former star of baseball within the leagues Negro (Snodgrass 121). However, his athletic abilities are seen to vanish before major leagues started incorporating blacks into their clubs. He has continuously cast the Devil as the main reason his stories that entertain, frustrate, and bewilder his family (Wilson II). Cory Maxson is the teenage son of Troy and Rose. He is presented as a respectful son who gets good grades at school to symbolize the value that everyone holds in society. Various people would come to see Cory play football. Rose Maxson is the wife to Troy, who continually looks for ways of creating love among his family to explain the existing inconsistencies between the Black community and the pre-Colonialists. Jim Bono is another major character of the play that is usually called Bono or Mr. Bono. He met Troy in jail, where the former learned to play baseball. The character expresses significant themes of the story as he always insisted that Troy should build a wall as advocated by the wife to express love among them.


August Wilson represents the nature of the relationship that existed during the era minority Black community by the use of various logos. For instance, towards the end of the play, Troy and Cory continuously engage in a fight after the baseball bat's revelation that the main character is sabotaging his son's aesthetic career after he failed in his attempts to play baseball (Snodgrass 120). The constant fight symbolizes the nature of the relationship of relationships that existed in the community. In this case, Cory is the minority Black while Troy acts to be living in the pre-Colonial era. As a result, Troy would lose his son due to the kind of betrayal he reflects from his actions. Besides, baseball has been constant throughout the play and has been the primary point of interest between various individuals. Its symbolic meaning is the expression of the hardship in the life of the main character alongside the level of poverty that Troy has experienced throughout his life.

Also, the fence that Rose advocates to be constructed symbolizes the family love that people should have. In the play, Rose always asks Troy to build a fence that covers their homestead. Troy, therefore, questions she insists that they should make a fence around the house around their house and then get an answer from Bono. The response by Mr. Bono states that "some people build fences to keep people in...others to keep people out" (Wilson II). The statement symbolizes Rose's viewpoint of the fence. The fence acts as a way of keeping love and family, whereas Troy only views the typical meaning of the action. The author, therefore, expresses the love and solidarity that Rose attempts to achieve, as depicted in Bon's statement, "Rose wants to hold on to you all. She loves you" (Wilson II).


The Fence is a play that must incorporate a comprehensive language structure to foreground the primary themes of the author. August Wilson has therefore used a dialogue form of communication to present the conversation between characters (Snodgrass 118). The dialogues have profoundly revealed information about the play's charters, which has, in turn, helped in advancing the plot. The aspects of the minority Black community has, therefore, been presented clearly by using dialogue. The language style has been used to reveal the nature of the relationship between individuals. For instance, from the dialogue between Rose and Troy, Bono was ever to detect the looming mistreatment that Troy might have been experiencing from how they communicate with each other. The dialogic language that Wilson uses has drawn attention to the characterization, which a significant step in relaying the underlying message of the play by identifying every main character as a distinct individual while developing the existing relations between them.

Besides, the naming of the play "Fence" also expresses how language has been used to foreground the significant themes in the play (Snodgrass 116). The fence-building project serves as an illustrative device of language that depicts the relationship that bonds and ends in the backyard arena. The author did not use the name to express that dramatic actions depend entirely on building a fence. Through the name of the play, Bono could identify the reason why Rose wants a fence constructed for her loved ones (Snodgrass 122). The nurturing and loving nature of Rose is, therefore, revealed in her desire to have a fence that covers her house. Besides, the language brings multiple theoretical lenses from which the characters observe the aspect of love, which is one of the principal themes in the play. For instance, Troy's inconsideration of Rose's advice to finish the fence expresses his lack of commitment in the marriage as the fence only appears completed in the final scene of the play after the demise of Troy. The family, therefore, reunites to express the restoration of care and love that should have been the significant virtues that hold a family together.


On balance, August Wilson's Fences successfully used literary elements to express the experiences of African Americans during the 1950s while providing a critical assessment of the relationships that prevailed among the minority Black community during the era of pre-Civil Rights. The literary elements have made the play relevant in the contemporary context since it has managed to imitate the typical portrayal of the underlying challenges of life that the marginalized and underprivileged community in society. The play has been increasingly popular in the modern era due to August Wilson's attention to detail and the effective use of literary elements to enhance the significant themes of the play.

Works Cited

Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. August Wilson: a literary companion. Vol. 1. McFarland, 2004.

Wilson, August. Fences: a play. Vol. 6. Penguin, 2016.

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