Fences

Death and Baseball: August Wilson's Fences 10th Grade

Along with the Fourth of July and apple pie, baseball is a celebrated symbol of America. Since its invention over 150 years ago, the game has served as a powerful metaphor for the American dream, and the hopes and democratic ideals that accompany this idea. However, in 1957, when August Wilson's Fences is set, baseball was still in the early phases of desegregation, a process that had begun ten years before. This racial revolution left Wilson's protagonist, 53-year-old former Negro league star Troy Maxson, resentful of the opportunities he was denied in his own baseball career. Troy's disappointment not only affects his life, but also family's life, in particular, his 18-year-old son, Cory. Based on his outdated assumption that discrimination still exists in sports despite the cultural changes, Troy attempts to protect Cory by denying him a football scholarship and a chance at the American dream. Troy explains his actions entirely through baseball terminology. Troy also relies on baseball imagery to describe an extramarital affair and his relationship with death itself. Using these vivid baseball images and loaded rhetoric, Troy Maxson defies the constraints of racism and the mundaneness of his own life.

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