Can anyone provide me with a basic summary or overview of the book. We were supposed to read this last year and I neglected to and tomorrow we are having a discussion about it and I would like to have some input.

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You can check plot summary on other websites but here are some of my original insights. Maybe this could help. I was just working on this for one of my hw :] hope this helps a bit

Inheriting history, accepting the change, metaphorical fences:

Through the portrayal of father and son relationship between Troy and Cory/ Lyons, the play implies that we must understand our background before becoming truly independent. Both Troy and Cory have a sense of pride and independence. Troy takes pride in working as a garbage man to raise his family and Cory takes pride in his football skills. August Wilson purposely sets their career so that the characters can be related. Initially, Troy wanted to succeed with his baseball career but the time wasn’t right for him and due to color discrimination, Troy could not play in the major leagues even though he was better than the white men who played baseball. When Troy found Rose and they had a baby, Troy gave up his passion for baseball to raise the family. However, it was hard for him to get a job so he robbed and stole in which he accidentally killed a person and went to jail. Cory’s childhood was unaccompanied by his father and he did not understand the importance of relating himself to his family’s history. While Troy was in jail, things changed and it became possible for African American people to prosper to a certain degree. However, Troy does not accept change. His tenacious belief that African Americans cannot prosper in America reflect how he was treated during his time. He also does not believe that there was a change because he was in jail while all the change happened and while Cory was growing.

Troy wanted to be independent and he could have found his true identity if he was born during Cory’s time. However, his behaviors and bad parenting is due to his crude childhood in which his father abused him and raped his girlfriend and his experiences living in a time which racism was widely spread. Troy grew up shadowed by the people of past who have been effected by the cruelty while slavery was accepted. Troy inherited history but failed to accept the new world which is formed with time. Cory, however, is the opposite. He is living in the changed world so he accepts change more easily than Troy. His ambition is as great as one that Troy had during his early manhood. However, Cory does not accept the history and does not look through the mistakes of history or the goods of history. Even though Troy gave up his independence for the family (Cory, Rose and Lyons) Cory does not understand the past so he cannot see Troy’s fatherly love. Part of it is bad parenting that came from Troy’s history but the fact that Cory only tries to be independent causes Cory to hate his father until the end of the play when Raynell sings the songs that Troy taught them and refers to how Troy always said that it was “Cory’s Room.” Both Troy and Cory failed to truly find success through passion but they failed to accept both the inheritance of the past and change brought to the world.

The building of Fences is Wilson’s genius set up which allows the reader to understand each character better. Each character has a different metaphorical meaning of their fences. Rose’s Fences are interpreted by Bono that Rose wants to “hold onto” Troy. In addition, Rose’s metaphorical Fences is family togetherness. She wants to keep family close within the Fence. She wants Lyon’s wife to come visit her and she wants Troy to come home. Rose “planted a seed in” Troy, allowing her to settle as a mother and a wife. She found her identity through Troy. However, Troy’s Fences are differently interpreted. Troy’s Fences is symbolic because he does not want to complete building the fences. Troy doesn’t want to finish building fences because his idea of fences is the barrier that keeps him from becoming independent. Troy gave away his life to dedicate it to raise his family. His passion has been long forgotten. In a way the family is a burden to him so the fences seem to give him a negative emphasis of him being locked up or bonded with the family like how the slaves were kept within the barrier. Cory’s fences represent his relationship with Troy. Cory could never prosper with Troy’s stubbornness and bad parenting. Although Troy taught the mistakes of the past, Cory fails to interpret and accept his father. When Cory steps out of the fences, he is no longer interfered with his father’s control.