August Wilson, Fences Discussion Questions



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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. 28-31; p. 61, p. 64, p. 77, p. 84, p. 89.
    • Father-Son Relationships:
      • Troy—his father (pp. 50-52)
      • Troy—Lyons (p. 13ff, p. 56)
      • Troy—Cory (most of Act I, iii—pp. 29-40; p. 57, p. 72, pp. 85-89; 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?
    • 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?
    • Troy-Rose Relationship:
      • Does Troy love Rose?
      • Why does he cheat on her?
      • P. 39-40; 43, 49, 62-63, 66-72, 73-77, 78-79,
    • 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?
  • Can you see any links to other texts in this semester?
  • What is the significance of some “minor” characters, such as Bono and Gabriel?


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