Fences

Dissolving Binaries in Sula and Fences 12th Grade

Toni Morrison’s Sula and August Wilson’s Fences have countless similarities. The two stories, which at their cores revolve around African American struggles, showcase the complexities of being a person of color in a rapidly changing society. Characters in both novels—like Sula and Corey— ignore the life paths society expects them to take, forging their own paths instead. Older characters—like Eva and Troy—suffer from painful pasts. Thematically, Morrison and Wilson break down binaries, both arguing that a person isn’t inherently good or bad, but somewhere in between.

The characters of Eva, from Sula, and Troy from Fences have many similarities, both in backstories and in the way these backstories affect the way they parent. Even though they both lived after the end of slavery, they still suffered from its effects. Growing up in the south, Troy had a father who only cared about “getting them bales of cotton” in to the plantation owner that he sharecropped for (51). Unable to leave because “he ain’t know how to do nothing but farm,” he took out his anger on his children and the people around him, once beating Troy so he could molest his girlfriend (51). At fourteen, he leaves his father only to live through years of homelessness...

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