Skip over navigation

Fences

August Wilson

Act Two: Scene Four

Act Two: Scene Three

Act Two: Scene Five

Summary

Rose prepares for a church bake sale as Lyons arrives with twenty dollars to pay Troy back for a loan. Lyons and Cory chat. Cory has graduated from high school and Lyons missed the ceremony because he had a jazz gig. Cory is trying to find a job, indicating that Troy did not allow him to go to college to play football. Lyons and Cory agree that jobs are few and far between these days. Lyons suggests to Cory that he ask Troy for help finding a job. Rose, Lyons, and Cory leave the yard as Troy heads in to the yard after a day's work. It is Troy's payday.

Rose is more independent. Troy heats up his own food for dinner and Rose feels she can come and go without reporting to Troy when she is coming back or what she is doing. Troy drinks without Bono and sings a blues song to himself about an old dog named Blue. Bono stops by the house. They are no longer close friends. Bono and Troy do not work on the same trash route anymore now that Troy has been promoted to drive a truck in Greentree, a white neighborhood. Troy and Bono catch up with each other. They talk about their hopes for an early retirement and their wives. Rose is more religious now and more dedicated to her church. Troy invites Bono to stay and drink like old times, but Bono plays dominoes every Friday with other men at a man named Skinner's house. Troy and Bono acknowledge how each man made good on his bet; Troy finished the fence for Rose and Bono bought Lucille the refrigerator. Troy and Bono half-heartedly agree to meet up someday at Bono's house. Bono goes to his domino game. Troy continues to drink and sing by himself.

Cory comes back and steps over Troy on the porch without saying excuse me. Troy picks a fight with Cory. Cory isn't afraid of Troy. Troy asserts his manhood and role as father by forcing the respect issue with Cory who disrespectfully refuses to say "excuse me" to his father. Troy insists that Cory leave the house and provide for himself since he does not respect him as the man of the house and the breadwinner who provides for Cory. Troy flaunts how long and how much he has provided for Cory, but Cory refuses to give Troy much credit for the material things Troy gave him because Troy gave so little loving care to Cory and made him fear his own father.

Cory brings up Troy's recent failings with Rose and lets Troy know he disapproves. Troy again insists that Cory leave to be out on his own and goes as far to say, "You just another nigger on the street to me!" Outraged, Cory points out that the house and property from which Troy is throwing Cory out, should actually be owned by Gabriel whose government checks paid for most of the mortgage payments. Troy physically attacks Cory. Cory swings at Troy with a baseball bat but does not hit Troy because he would probably kill him. Troy taunts Cory and then gets the bat away from Cory in a struggle. Troy stands over Cory with the bat and kicks Cory out of the house with finality. Cory leaves, saying he'll be back for his things. Troy tells Cory that he will not let Cory inside, but that he will leave Cory's belongings on the other side of the fence. Cory leaves. Troy swings the baseball bat, taunting Death to try to face him. He has a renewed belief in his strength because he defeated Cory. Troy is ready for death but he will fight a hard fight when death comes.

Analysis

Wilson manipulates the sense of time by breaking the established expectations of Bono and Troy's relationship. The details of the change inform the audience of how long it has been since their friendship was the fun-loving companionship of the opening scene. Several things are different now. Bono, who used to adore Troy and play the follower to Troy's lead in the friendship, now has a social life independent of Troy. Bono has a new group of friends who celebrate payday without Troy. Troy and Bono no longer work on the same trash route. Troy's promotion has landed him a job driving a truck in Greentree, a white neighborhood. Souring the sweetness of the promotion, Troy's new job is lonely because he has no one to talk to during the day.

In fact, loneliness defines every aspect of Troy's life. He is alone at work, on payday afternoons and weekends, as well as with his family and in his love life. Troy's actions have come back to haunt him. His conversation with Bono attempts to catch-up and heal an irreparable friendship. After a few months, Bono and Troy seem like strangers to each other, grasping onto aspects of each other that they used to know well. The scene between them creates sympathy for Troy and for Bono. There is an unspoken understanding between them. They both know that if Troy had heeded Bono's advice to stop his affair, life would be better for Troy now.

The falling action of Fences reaches a pitch when Troy challenges his son Cory by demanding fatherly respect from a son who no longer respects his father. The physical blockade Troy forces on Cory is an immature maneuver, typical of a child who did not get their way. Troy's immature behavior heightens the degree of foolishness he exhibits and emphasizes Cory's entry into manhood. When Cory stands up to Troy by scolding him like a child with the disgust of his opinions on Troy's failings, Cory, like Troy before him, becomes a man by challenging his father. Cory and Troy engage in physical violence just as Troy did with his own father when he came of age. And Cory, just like Troy must now leave the home he shares with his father to lead his own, independent life.

It is ironic, yet understandable that Cory and Troy fail to see eye-to-eye. It is ironic because both of them leave home under similar circumstances: they share disgust for their respective fathers and the experience of a father who selfishly took away something from each of them that they treasured. Cory lost his college football opportunities, trust in his father and home, Troy lost his girlfriend in a traumatic beating and rape by his father, his trust in his father and his home. Yet, tragically, what they share also pulls them apart and Troy and Cory are conflicted and enraged at each other. Troy finds himself unable to cope with the truth in a life or death situation. Therefore, Cory, a vigilant speaker of the truth, must disappear from Troy's world in order for Troy to maintain the illusion he now clings to in order to salvage what little is left of his once fearless life.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us