Specialisation: August Wilson

August Wilson’s Play Fences

In August Wilson’s play Fences, Troy Maxson is a man who is conflicted with his job. On one hand, he takes great pride in his work as a garbage collector. He is a hard worker who has held the same position for over eighteen years. Troy is also willing to do whatever it takes to provide for his family. He is always looking for ways to make extra money. He has a side business of selling illegal liquor. He is a loving husband and father, but he can also be very hard on his wife and children. Troy’s co-workers respect him for his dedication to his job. On the other hand, Troy feels that his job is beneath him. He is a bright and talented man who thinks he is stuck in a dead-end job. Troy is not satisfied with his job. He feels he is not paid enough, and his co-workers do not appreciate him. Troy’s attitude toward work is one of the main conflicts in the play. However, Troy is a role model for many people in the community and someone everyone can admire.

Troy’s attitude toward work in the play Fences is linked to more enormous ideas about Troy’s aspirations to succeed as a Black man living in 1950s America. As a Black man, Troy is aware of the discrimination and racism that exists in society. He is also aware of the limited opportunities available to him because of his race (Wilson, p. 36-67). As a result, Troy is determined to provide for his family and to create a better life for them. He works hard to provide for his family and save money to buy a house. However, Troy’s attitude toward work is also shaped by his experiences as a Black man in America. He has been denied opportunities and has experienced racism and discrimination. As a result, Troy is resentful of work and feels it wastes his time. He is also angry at the world for how it has treated him and his family. However, despite his anger, Troy still works hard to provide for his family. He is a complex character struggling to find his place in a world that is not always fair to him.

Troy Maxson is a man who is stuck in his ways. He is a product of his generation, where hard work and determination were the only things that mattered. He is a proud man struggling to provide for his family while also coming to terms with his demons. Troy is married to Rose. Troy is a former baseball player who now works as a garbage collector. The mother, Rose, is a homemaker. The couple has three sons: Lyons, Cory, and Raymond. Cory is a high school student trying to please his father by playing football and following in his footsteps. According to Koprince, football has become “the great repository of national ideals, the symbol of all that [is] good in American life: fair play (sportsmanship); the rule of law (objective arbitration of disputes); equal opportunity (each side has its innings); the brotherhood of man (bleacher harmony); and more”(Koprince, p. 16). However, Cory is not very good at the sport, and Troy constantly criticises him. Lyons is Troy’s older son from a previous marriage. He is a musician and does not have a steady job. Troy disapproves of Lyons’ lifestyle and always tells him to get a job and make something of himself. While all three characters have different ideas about work, education, and success, they are all ultimately trying to find their way in the world.

Troy’s views on work, education, and success differ from Cory’s and Lyon’s, but they all agree that it is possible to achieve success. Cory and Lyons believe education is essential, while Troy does not. Cory believes hard work is important, while Lyons thinks hard work and luck are important. Troy believes that work is an essential thing in life. He feels that everyone should have a job and work hard. Troy’s view of work is that it is a necessary evil. He has to do it to provide for his family, but he does not necessarily enjoy it. He is a garbage collector and is constantly tired when he comes home from work. He is also resentful that he has to work so hard while his boss can sit in his office and do nothing.

However, Troy is always looking for ways to make his job easier, such as finding shortcuts to complete his route shorter, which is why he believes education is essential. He wants his sons to do well in school and get good jobs. However, his view of education is that it is not relatively significant and that success comes from working hard. Cory is the opposite and believes that education is the key to success. Lyons also believes in the importance of education, but he thinks that success comes from working hard and being lucky.

All three of these men have different views on what it takes to be successful, but they all agree that hard work is essential. Troy believes that hard work is the most critical factor in success. Success, to Troy, is measured by how much money a person makes. He thinks that the more money a person has, the more successful they are. He believes that you can achieve anything you want if you work hard enough. Cory and Lyons, on the other hand, believe that education is more important than work. They think a person can be successful without a lot of money. They also believe that a person’s success should be measured by how happy they are, not how much money they have (Wilson, p. 4). Cory believes that hard work is essential, but he also believes that education is important. He thinks that you need both hard work and education to be successful. Lyons believes that hard work and luck are both important. He feels that you need a combination of both to be successful.

The race is a factor in both Troy’s and Cory’s attitudes toward work and success. Troy has experienced discrimination because of his race but has overcome it. He wants his sons to be able to do the same. Cory and Lyon have not experienced the same level of discrimination, but they are aware of it. Opportunity is another factor in Troy’s and Cory’s attitudes toward work and success. Troy did not have many opportunities when growing up, but he could make the most of the ones he did have. He wants his sons to have more opportunities than he did. They have more opportunities than their father, but they are unsure if they want to take advantage of them.

The change in attitude toward work also reflects a shift in attitude toward success. This change in attitude is likely due, in part, to the different experiences that Troy and his sons have had. Troy grew up when there were fewer opportunities for people of colour. According to Herren, “Troy Maxson is the king of shreds and patches on his hard-scrabble throne, at once the defender of the family home and the chief threat against it.” He had to work hard to get where he is, so he values hard work. On the other hand, his sons have had more opportunities (Herren, pp. 11-13). They have taken advantage of affirmative action programs and have access to education and job opportunities that their father did not have. As a result, they are more likely to see success as something given to them rather than something they have to work for.

The difference in attitude toward work and success also reflects a difference in attitude toward race. Troy grew up when race was a significant factor in determining opportunities. He was discriminated against because of his race, and as a result, he has a negative view of race. His sons, however, have grown up in a time when race is less of a factor in determining opportunities. They have taken advantage of affirmative action programs and have access to education and job opportunities that their father did not have. As a result, they have a more positive view of race.

In August Wilson’s play Fences, the protagonist Troy Maxson is a man for whom work is everything. It is what gives his life purpose and meaning. For Troy, work is a way to prove his worth to the world. It is how he measures his success. And yet, despite all of this, a part of Troy is critical of his work ethic. Troy is a man who has always had to fight for everything he has. He was born into poverty and had to drop out of school in the eighth grade to help support his family. He has worked hard his entire life, first as a trash collector and then as a fence builder. He has never been able to advance himself, yet he has never given up. He is a man who knows the value of hard work.

And yet, despite all of this, Troy is not content. He is always looking for more. He is always trying to find ways to make more money. He is always looking for ways to prove himself. He is a man who is never satisfied. This is not to say that Troy is a bad man. He is not. He is a good man who has just been dealt a bad hand. He is a man who has had to struggle his entire life. He is a man who has had to fight for everything he has. And he has done so with admirable strength and determination. But there is a downside to Troy’s work ethic. Because he is always looking for more, he can never relax and enjoy what he has. He is always on the go, working and trying to find ways to make more money. This can be exhausting for those around him. It can also be frustrating because it can make Troy seem like he is never happy with what he has. So, to answer the question, Wilson encourages and is critical of Troy’s work ethic. He admires Troy’s determination and strength, but he also recognises the downside of it.

Works Cited

“Fences.” Theater, vol. 16, no. 3, 2016, pp. 36–67, 10.1215/GLRC/01610775-16-3-36. Accessed 10 Apr. 2019.

Herren, Graley. “Stage Review of Fences.” August Wilson Journal, vol. 1, 21 June 2019, pp. 11–13, 10.5195/awj.2019.23.

Koprince, Susan. TOPIC #1. Discuss Troy’s Attitude toward Work in Fences. How Is This Attitude L – Skilled Papers? 23 July 2016, skilledpapers.com/2022/07/topic-1-discuss-troys-attitude-toward-work-in-fences-how-is-this-attitude-l/. Accessed 24 July 2022.

Wilson, August. “Fences.” MCPHS, 25 Dec. 2016, www.MCPHS.com/title/tt2671706/.