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Fences

August Wilson

Act Two: Scene Two

Act Two: Scene One

Act Two: Scene Three

Summary

Rose has not had a conversation with Troy for six months, though he is still living in their house. Rose speaks to Troy for the first time by asking him if he is planning on coming home after work the next day, Friday. Troy has been going to Alberta's house every Friday after work, even though he still says that he goes to Taylor's. Troy tells Rose that he plans on going to Taylor's. Rose asks that Troy come straight home. Troy explains that he wants to have some time to himself to relax and enjoy life. Fed up with Troy, Rose warns Troy that she does not have much more patience for his behavior. Troy discloses hurtful news to Rose that he is actually going over to the hospital to see Alberta who went into labor early.

Rose matches Troy's bad news. Gabriel has been taken away to the asylum because Troy signed papers granting permission for half of Gabe's money from the government to go to Troy and half to the hospital. Troy is confused and hurt. He had thought that the papers he signed were the release forms to allow Gabe out of jail. He had made a mistake in sending Gabe away because he could not read the papers that he signed. Troy denies having signed the papers, but Rose saw Troy's signature on the document. Rose is furious at Troy for not signing the papers so Cory could go to college to play football and then signing the papers for Gabe to be locked up in a mental hospital. Rose warns Troy that he will have to answer to his misdeed. The phone rings and Rose answers it. Rose learns from the hospital that Alberta had a healthy baby girl but Alberta died during childbirth. Troy confronts the imaginary character, Death, out loud again. He challenges Death to come and get him after he the builds a fence. Troy dares Death to confront him "man to man," still confident that he would win.

Analysis

Troy arrives at his house like a stranger. The household that once revolved around Troy and his whims and fanciful stories and ideas no longer exists. It is a day before Troy's payday, the day Wilson previously emphasizes in order to display a change in character and time. Even though we have yet to see if Troy and Bono will come to the Maxson house to drink and talk like they always do on Fridays, it is clear from Rose's unemotional, hands-off behavior that Troy has lost so much respect and love in his family that it is unlikely that Bono and his relationship with Troy will survive. Even though Troy has brought the truth of his affair to light, he still lives in an escapist mode. Troy continues to see Alberta and escape reality with her despite the facts that his son and wife know about the relationship and he still lives with them. As Rose attempts to salvage what little spousal bond she has with Troy by insisting that he come home after work, Troy continues to tell her he wants to go to Taylor's instead and tries to leave Rose in the middle of their conversation. By this point it must be obvious to Rose and Cory where Troy goes when he says he is going to Taylor's. Incapable of shattering his illusion in his own mind, Troy proceeds by pretending life is the way it was when his affair was a secret and believes he can maintain both his family and extramarital life simultaneously without further loss.

Wilson dramatically creates a double-edged situation in which the audience may sympathize with and object to Troy's character. While Troy could control the mistake he made by having an affair, he could not help being misled about Gabe's future due to his poor education and illiteracy. During the climax of the play, Troy's illusionary world bursts when the phone call from the hospital discloses that Alberta died in childbirth, and Troy is now responsible for a healthy baby girl. Ironically, Troy's escape from responsibility produced a huge responsibility, his baby, Raynell. The peak of Troy's mistakes occur after Rose sticks up for herself and tells him the truth of her sacrifice and commitment to Troy even though she has been disappointed with their life. Troy takes out his anger on Rose because of his anger about Alberta's death and his frustration with himself for failing Gabe. He grabs her violently and will not let go when she pushes him down farther by accusing him of taking and not giving in their relationship. Cory attacks Troy to protect Rose, defying the obedience Troy has aggressively demanded of Cory which lays the groundwork for a culminating incident caused by Troy's mistakes.

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