act 1 scene 4
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Troy reminisces about his own father. His father was a sharecropper raising eleven kids on his own. He was more worried about “getting them bales of cotton in to Mr. Lubin” than caring for his kids. Troy’s mother left the children when Troy was young and never returned. His father didn’t know how to do anything but farm, and though he was “good for nobody” he always felt a responsibility for his kids and made sure they had a roof over their heads and food in their mouths. Troy tells of how when he turned fourteen he started “sniffing around Joe Canewell’s daughter.” One afternoon, Troy left his plowing early and goes to the river and started “fooling around” with the girl by the river. His father found him and started beating him with leather straps, chasing him away. His father then tried to sleep with the girl himself. Troy saw this and started to fight his father. When his daddy faced him, he "could see why the devil had never come to get him…cause he was the devil himself.” Troy’s father beat him into unconsciousness and his old dog Blue woke him, licking his face. Troy left his house and “right there the world suddenly got big. And it was a long time before I could cut it down to where I could handle it.” Troy says that he lost touch with all his family, except for Gabe, and that he hopes his father is dead.
Troy begins to recount the story of his father and how he became independent at the age of fourteen. He proudly tells the assembled group of his father’s dedication to his family, even though he was a mean and bitter man. But his relationship with his father ended when his father had caught him having sex with a young girl and chased Troy away, only so that he could have her for himself. Troy fights his father, is beaten badly, and leaves home to begin his journey up north. Troy proudly feels as though he took what was best from his father – his sense of loyalty and dedication to his family. The irony is that Troy also has taken his father's bitterness and cruelty. It is not entirely clear if Troy realizes this.